203. Memorandum to the 40 Committee1

SUBJECT

  • PROJECT MATADOR

1. The purpose of this memorandum is to provide the Committee with information on the status and planning of Project MATADOR to assist the Committee in making a decision regarding continued preparations for a second mission and the scenario to be followed.

2. Successful sea trials to test modifications to the ship’s systems were completed on 27 April 1975. The capture vehicle was transferred to the ship on 8 May 1975. The HUGHES GLOMAR EXPLORER (HGE) is presently at Long Beach Pier where work is under way to prepare the capture vehicle and the ship for integrated systems tests (IST) scheduled to commence 30 May 1975. Upon successful completion of IST about 13 June, the ship will [Page 916]return to port and be readied for a second mission. A departure date of 4 July 1975 is planned pending approval of the mission. (See Attachment (1)2 for a detailed program schedule.) Crew training and readiness for a second mission is proceeding satisfactorily.

3. Following the compromise of the MATADOR operation in the news media,3 the guidance received from the Committee was to keep open the option of a second mission this summer and adhere to a “no comment” posture regarding this issue. In consonance with this guidance, preparations and planning for a second mission are continuing using a deep ocean mining scenario. Despite widespread publicity since 18 March which identified the HGE’s involvement in the recovery operation last summer, the U.S. Government’s “no comment” posture has achieved the objective of not forcing an official Soviet comment on this subject. Additionally, there remains sufficient credibility within the deep ocean mining community to support the continuation of this cover. It must be assumed, however, that the Soviets have correctly deduced the true purpose of the HGE when operating at the target site. This assumption is reinforced by the fact that a Soviet tug has been stationed at the target site continuously since 28 March 1975.

4. In addition to the commercial deep ocean mining scenario, other operational scenarios have been considered for a second mission in light of potential Soviet reactions (See Attachment 2.) Most of the alternatives considered involved [less than 1 line not declassified] in one form or another and were deemed inconsistent with the “no comment” position in that such presence would tend to highlight and possibly escalate U.S. Government involvement. Therefore, these alternative scenarios were not further developed. There is provision in the MATADOR Contingency Operations Plan (as was the case during the first mission) for CINCPACFLT to respond in the event that the HGE requires assistance. The rationale for the deep ocean mining scenario is summarized in Attachment (3). The pros and cons of conducting a mission [less than 1 line not declassified] are compared in Attachment (4).

5. Unless directed otherwise, preparations for a second mission [less than 1 line not declassified] are continuing.

  1. Source: National Security Council Files, Ford Administration Intelligence Files, MATADOR, 1975. Top Secret; [codeword not declassified]; MATADOR. Copies were sent to Kissinger, Clements, Colby, Sisco, and George Brown.
  2. Attachments 1–3 are attached, but not printed. Attachment 4 is Document 202.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 197.