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Cold War Saga Beneath the Pacific on Spy Sub

Dr. Roger C. Dunham, who served as a nuclear-reactor operator aboard a spy submarine for several years, conducting espionage against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way.

In early 1968, the Soviet Navy experienced a disaster at sea on its missile-carrying submarine, code-named the PL-751. The incident, which left 99 sailors dead, led to an urgent and top secret mission for the American submarine crew to find the destroyed vessel in the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

This was a mission never acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Defense or any other U.S. government body. Cruising through waters deep beneath the searching ships of the Soviet Union, the nuclear submarine hunt was so classified that even the men on the vessel were never told of the destination.

The exploits of the sailors and their remarkable commanding officer, enduring near-tragedies and nearly-impossible challenges, are described in Dr. Dunham's book Spy Sub. He also provides his own personal experiences under the tightest secrecy ever required for a submarine mission.

In his talk at the Maritime Museum, Dr. Dunham will take the audience into the minds of three sailors aboard the submarine, describing the psychiatric and near-death experiences during the search, and providing additional information about the sailors' sacrifices as well as the consequences for the United States in the Cold War.

Following his years of service on the submarine USS Halibut, Dr. Dunham completed premedical studies at USC, and attended the UCLA School of Medicine where he received his doctorate degree. He is a board certified internal medicine physician.

In addition to Spy Sub, Dr. Dunham is the author of Final Diagnosis. He recently retired after 40 years of medical practice; he and his wife live in Santa Barbara.

The talk is free to attend for SBMM members, $10 for non-members. To register, visit or call 456 8747.

There will be a members-only reception from 6:15–6:45 p.m.

Sponsors are Silvio Di Loreto and Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture,

— Lis Perry for Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.

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