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The Hunt for Red October

Red OctoberThe 941 Akula / TYPHOON starred in Tom Clancy’s novel The Hunt for Red October, that told the story of a vessel of the Soviet navy, under the old communist regime, that tried to defect to the West. The screen adaptation of the Tom Clancy thriller (Paramount, 1990), starred Alec Baldwin as a US intelligence agent tracking the maiden voyage of the new, secret Soviet submarine Red October. Sean Connery is the Soviet sub commander, who is up to something. Oscar winner for sound effects editing.

Somewhere under the freezing Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision. The new technologically superior Soviet nuclear sub, the Red October, is heading the the United States coast under the command of Captain Ramius. The American government thinks Ramius is planning to attack. A lone CIA analyst has a different idea: he thinks Ramius is planning to defect, but he has only a few hours to find him and prove it.The entire crew of Red October, a Soviet submarine, is defecting to the US. At the same time, the entire Russian naval and air commands are trying to find Ramius too. The Russian navy is on a path to destroy the submarine.

The chase for the highly advanced nuclear submarine is on–and there’s only one man who can find her. Brilliant CIA analyst Jack Ryan has little interest in fieldwork, but when covert photographs of Red October land on his desk, Ryan soon finds himself in the middle of a high-stakes game of hide-and-seek played by two world powers–a game that could end in all-out war. Jack Ryan, contacts the commander of Red October, and use all of his resources to find and protect it.

Critics felt that it is the accuracy of Clancy's perception of Soviet and American cultures that made this book such a success. Clancy's descriptions of military hardware are technologically accurate, the plot is interesting, and his characters are likeable and engaging. The Hunt for Red October was the first work of fiction ever published by the Naval Institute Press. The movie would do for submariners what Top Gun had done to boost the image of US Navy jet fighter pilots.

“This is really the first movie that the Navy’s cooperated in where nuclear powered submarines are the focal point,” said CAPT Michael T. Sherman, director of the Navy Office of Information West, Los Angeles, and chief technical adviser for the production. “This will give the general public a heightened awareness of the capabilities of the submarine,” Sherman said. ”The professionalism of the Navy comes out in this movie, and that’s something we’ve tried to keynote.” The Navy’s involvement in production of the movie - regulated by strict DoD guidelines on funding and support procedures - was extensive. The film’s producer, Paramount Pictures Corporation, was supported by sailors and units from the air, surface and submarine communities. Navy involvement in the filming resulted in “Hunt for Red October” being as realistic as possible.

The novel reportedly was inspired by two real-life Soviet naval defections. The first was the successful 1961 defection of Lithuanian-born Captain Jonas Pleskys, who sailed his Soviet submarine tender to Sweden. The second was the ill-fated 1975 defection attempt by Political Officer Valery Sablin of the KRIVAK-class frigate Storozhevoy (Vigilant). The Last Sentry [by Gregory D. Young and Nate Braden. Naval Institute Press, 2005, 288 pages] tells the true story behind Clancy’s premise by recording events that occurred aboard the Storozhevoy, a Krivak Frigate that tried to change the old Brezhnev-era Soviet Union, as it sailed from Riga in Latvia, then a Soviet satellite state in the Baltic. Some individuals in the Soviet KGB, Communist Party, and the West believed that the ship and its crew attempted to defect to Sweden, but the truth, as always, is a bit more complex.

Red OctoberThe Soviets’ newest Typhoon-class ballistic missile submarine, Red October, was equipped with a revolutionary silent propulsion system, nicknamed “Caterpillar Drive.” The system is supposed to make sonar detection next to impossible. The star of the movie, at least for physicists, was this revolutionary new magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) marine propulsion system. The so-called "caterpillar drive" worked with no moving parts, allowing a nuclear missile-armed Soviet submarine to approach the U.S. coast undetected. As the submarine captain (played by Connery) said, "Once the world trembled at the sound of our rockets … now they will tremble again--at the sound of our silence." MHD propulsion is not fictional: real-life prototypes include the "EMS-1," a 3.0-m submarine that achieved speeds of 0.4 m/s during tests in California in 1966, and the "ST-500," a 3.6-m boat that reached 0.6 m/s in Japan in 1979. The world's first and so far only full-sized MHD-propelled craft, "Yamato-1," carried 10 people at speeds of up to 15 km/h during successful sea trials in Kobe, Japan, in 1992. The "Yamato-1" has since been put up on blocks and interest in this form of marine propulsion has apparently waned.

Tom Clancy's Cold War thriller made the SSN 700 Dallas famous, but in Navy circles it is better known for being the first attack submarine to carry a dry-deck shelter, which houses a vehicle for launching and recovering special operations forces. The "other" submarine that starred in "The Hunt for Red October," the USS Dallas, returned from its last overseas deployment 26 November 2013. After 33 years in the fleet, the Dallas was inactivated in 2014. For two months in 1989, the boat participated in the filming of The Hunt for Red October off the coasts of Washington and California.

Best selling author Tom Clancy concluded a successful decade with the publication of Clear and Present Danger in 1989. The book follows previous bestsellers The Hunt for Red October (1984), Red Storm Rising (1986), Patriot Games (1987), and The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988). Clancy, the best-selling author of dozens of thrillers, including a famed series starring Jack Ryan, died of heart failure 01 October 2013 in Baltimore. He was 66. While he harbored ambitions to serve in the military — he joined the Army R.O.T.C. — he was told he was too nearsighted. Born in Baltimore, Clancy studied literature at the Loyola College in Baltimore and was an insurance salesman before he went on to write blockbuster espionage books. His net worth was reported to be around $300 million.

941 TYPHOONStrangely, although Red October's "Caterpillar" MHD drive was fictional, the Project 941 boats did turn out to have a novel propulsion system that was not evident in open sources for many years. Although the Typhoons had considerable reserve buoyancy, and towered above the waves when surfaced, photographs published during the Cold War and the years soon thereafter never showed details of the boat's propellers, which were always submerged. It was simply assumed that the design was pair of conventional propellers, as was depicted in contemporaneous line art. In fact, the Project 941 used a ducted or shrouded propeller, a rotating blade system that operates in a close-fitting casing or shroud. This was first used on the Project 661 Anchar / Papa ultra-high speed submarine a few years earlier to prevent propeller cavitation noise at high forward velocities. The main external enemy of submarines is noise. It unmasks the boat, that for an underwater missile carrier in general is a matter of life and death.




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