The gripping story--as much as is known--of the (Howard) Hughes Glomar Explorer, the fantastic $300M+ seagoing device for reclaiming a Soviet sub lying three miles deep in the South Pacific. The US ""Sea Spider"" underwater acoustic-detection system for monitoring traffic throughout the entire Pacific recorded the sub's actual demise (explosion of hydrogen fumes?) and 100 m.p.h. stern-first crash into primal ooze so deep and dark that no bacteria exist there (theoretically). Incredible new US sonar-TV devices gave high-resolution 3-D pictures of the sub in its Stygian blackness, using soundwaves reconstituted as laser lightwaves, that were better pictures than those sent back from the moon by our astronauts. The C.I.A. contracted with Hughes to design and build the unbelievable recovery ship. Its control device and ""claw"" for picking up the sub's sections weigh 6 million pounds!! It is the size of two football fields, 23 stories high, and is manned by a crew of 178 people--H-U-G-E. It had to be financed and built in supersecrecy. After the successful recovery--and a leak to the press--the C.I.A. admitted the whole affair but said it had all been a great failure. Burleson's arguments show that this cover story is riddled with holes. What to do with the ship now is only one of the areas he opens up.