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[WIW] A submariner watches "Hunt for the Red October"


Pronounced "Fish."
Validated User
For those who may be new to this series, this is the fourth submarine movie that I have reviewed. I have already done Crimson Tide, Down Periscope, and Operation Petticoat.

This book (and by extension, the movie) has always had a special meaning to me.

My father went through most of his life never reading for pleasure. He would read technical manuals, woodworking magazines, and newspapers, but that was about it.

Then, when I was in Nuclear Power School, I started telling my folks about this great book that I had just read. My mother, always an avid reader, picked it up at the book store and started reading it.

One evening, as she was reading it, my father asked if he could read it after she was done. He enjoyed it so much that he devoured the rest of Tom Clancy's work, then moved on to other technothrillers and finally to mysteries.

My father has been gone for 14 years now, but it pleases me that I opened him up to new worlds for the last third of his life. And Hunt for the Red October was the way that I did it.

Unlike some of the other movies that I have reviewed, the production had the full support of the Navy. While the film was set on the East Coast, it was more convenient for them to film it on the West Coast. Some of the scenes were filmed at Sub Base San Diego. The Navy gave the film crew access to the Chicago and the Portsmouth to set up the set designs (they did a good enough job that, until I was doing research for this, I thought that they were filmed on a Los Angeles class). Alec Baldwin was dropped into the water next to the USS Louisville. Key cast and crew members rode submarines, including an overnight run on the Salt Lake City. Scott Glenn, who played Captain Bart Mancuso of the USS Dallas, became the acting captain of the USS Houston (he gave all of the orders, but he was constantly shadowed by the actual captain). And the Houston supported filming for a month. They also loaned the film crew the USS Enterprise, two frigates, various helicopters, and a dry dock.

I really enjoyed this movie. When I watched it, though, I turned on my suspension of disbelief. If something was obviously wrong, I went with it. For those of you who may be new to this series, that's not what I do in these reviews. I analyze everything and say if it would really have gone down that way. In places, I tell stories about my own submarine experiences that I hope will amuse, enlighten, or entertain the reader (or will at least amuse myself).


At the start of the movie, 80s type computer printing on the screen says that both governments deny that anything seen in the film ever happened. Frankly, this is patently not true. The government is entirely open about submarine movements (even though they are classified secret). We only did training missions in international waters (that we got decorated for). I am certain that we never went anywhere that we weren't supposed to be (even though they sometimes kept our exact location secret from most of the crew).

This movie was initially supposed to be set in the modern day. Then, while the movie was being filmed, the Soviet Union collapsed (probably just as a ploy to inconvenience the movie's producers). They then added the printing at the start to establish that this happened in '84.

The Red October pulls out of port. Captain Ramius (Sean Connery) is on the bridge with one other person. In reality, there would be at least two more lookouts. They have no masts or antennas raised. Any time you are moving on the surface, you have the periscopes up.

A sub on the surface is vulnerable. Since most of your hull is below the waterline, you are a deep draft vessel. You are not maneuverable. You are also black, and the parts that are above the surface are relatively low and small. Since you are relatively low, the horizon is quite close. With a scope up, you have a vantage point that is over 30' higher than the top of the sail. This lets you see anything that might ram and sink you a good deal farther away, so that you might be able to avoid it.

We would generally use one scope for that. The other would be used for navigation. You lay down the bearings to three or four different landmarks on the charts. Where the lines cross is your position.

The Red October's hull number is painted on the side of the sail. I don't know if the Soviets painted their hull numbers on the sails, but we didn't. Operational Security (OPSEC). You don't want them to know which of your subs it is.

During the opening credits, we see the home office of Jack Ryan (played in this movie by a very young Alec Baldwin). We see Jack's 5 year old daughter and his wife. Jack promises to get his daughter a new teddy bear while he is on his “business trip.” Then his wife bundles him off to meet his plane.

When he gets on the plane, he explains to the flight attendant what turbulence is. Jack Ryan is a jerk.

After the plane lands, Jack is driven to CIA headquarters, where he meets the Deputy Director for Intelligence (DDI), Vice Admiral Greer (James Earl Jones). After family chitchat, the DDI gets down to business. “What's important enough to get you on a plane in the middle of the night?” The admiral knows that Jack is a poor flier.

Jack shows the admiral pictures that were received from British Intelligence. These pictures were of the Red October in drydock. They have some strange doors on the front and back of the hull. In the earlier conversation, Jack mentions that his watch is still set to London time. So, he got the pictures from his London friends, flew to wherever home is with the pictures in his briefcase, went home for a bit, then hopped on another plane to go to Langley. No. Those pictures would have been classified Super Secret. He would have flown from London to Langley.

Jack talks about the ways in which the Red October is different from the other Typhoon class missile boats. It's longer and wider. For him, though, the clincher is that it's being commanded by Ramius. Among his long list of accomplishments, he's taken out the first boat of every new class in the last 10 years. If he has this boat, it's not just another Typhoon.

I don't know if the Soviets really had one captain take out every new class. I know that we never did. There are two reasons for this. First, you only got a second shot at commanding a submarine if you commanded a fast boat, got promoted, and then commanded a boomer. Second, with a few exceptions (boats that were made as failed experiments), we would make one class of subs for a very long time compared to the Soviets. Let's look at the time in question (1974-1984). At the start of this time, we were still building Sturgeon class (started in 1963). Our hypothetical supercaptain would have commanded the USS Los Angeles in 1976. Even if you call the Flight II Los Angeles class subs (with vertical launch tubes for Tomahawks) a new class, the first of those wasn't launched until 1985. The 688i's weren't launched until 1989.

Our first Trident submarine was launched in 1976, so our supercaptain would have commanded the USS Ohio.

In comparison, Ramius would have commanded the first Delta III in 1976, the first Alfa in 1977, the first Victor III in 1979, the first Oscar I in 1981, the first Typhoon in 1981, the first Sierra I in 1983, and maybe the first Akula class in 1984.

Jack asks the admiral if he can show the pictures of the Red October to his friend, Skip Tyler. He expects to have to wait. Instead, the admiral calls to have a car waiting for Jack downstairs. The admiral responds to Jack's surprised look by telling him that the Red October was spotted by a satellite pulling out that morning.

I'm really not sure how a satellite could tell what boat it was pulling out. As I mentioned, we don't have any markings on the boat itself. We have a banner hanging on the brow when we are moored, and we have a plaque with the ship's name that hangs from a safety line around the sail, but that's it. And both of them come down when we pull out. I guess they could tell the Red October by the size differences, though, by comparing the length and the beam of the sub to the tugs, etc. around her.

The USS Dallas cruises by underwater. They did the underwater scenes with models. One thing that stands out to me here – there are rows of zinc bars bolted to the submarine below the waterline to prevent galvanic corrosion. These are missing from the model.

On the Dallas, a sonar technician named Jones (Courtney B. Vance) is teaching a sonar tech seaman about how their sonar works. In reality. I didn't know many ST Seamen. The nuclear power pipeline had a drop rate in excess of 50%. The curriculum was so tough, and was taught so fast, that if you were dropped for academics, they let you pick pretty much anything else that the Navy had to offer. Most electricians picked Sonar Tech. Nuc trainees put on Third Class Petty Officer out of their A school. Most of the Sonar Techs that I met got to their first boats as Petty Officers.

Jones is giving the new guy a hard time about finding a whale. We heard lots of whales on Sonar. And all sorts of other marine life. The sea is actually a pretty loud place. A lot of different fish make noise. Shrimp make a crackling sound. Each shrimp is fairly quiet, but when you hear a school of thousands of the little suckers, they make a lot of noise. And we do need to know which of the things that we see on sonar is biologics, so it's good to learn what they sound like and how to differentiate.

The Chief of the Boat (CoB) sticks his head into Sonar to tell a story about Jonesy. It appears that, when Jones was fairly new, he managed to accidentally hook his walkman up to the active sonar and broadcast opera that was heard many miles away. I wasn't a sonar tech. I don't know exactly what their systems could do. I don't see any reason why they would need the ability to broadcast anything but pings out of the active sonar system. Why build in a capability that you don't need?

The two junior enlisted in Sonar now are wearing their dungarees. The CoB is in khakis. In reality, they would all be in poopy suits (dark blue long-sleeved coveralls).

At the end of the story, there is a beeping sound. I am not sure that it is supposed to represent. The newbie asks what he needs to do with the contact. By this point in the run, they have come completely across the Atlantic Ocean from their home port. In that time, he has been standing under instruction watches for 6 hours out of every 18 for at least a couple of weeks. By now, he should know what to do if they get a new sonar contact.

Jones brushes the new guy off and reports the new contact himself. Part of his job is to teach his UI how to do things. He should have let the guy do it and step in to help out of the guy botched it. Of course, the UI is apparently completely clueless about the most basic of procedures after a couple of weeks, so he could just be incredibly frustrated with him.

Jones reports the new contact to the captain in Control. He states that it is probably a submerged contact and takes a wild guess that it is a boomer out of Polyarny. The report is mostly accurate. He probably would have added that he was classifying the new contact as Sierra <number>. Sierra was the designation for a submerged contact. The number would have been the next sequential number in the Sonar logs.

The sonar screens that Jonesy is working at don't look right. They have a bar constantly sweeping across the screen. The sonar screens that they used most had what is called a “waterfall” display.

Next, we are on the Red October. The crewmen are all in their dress uniforms. Crewmen are forming up and marching someplace. We never marched on US boats. Did they march on Russian subs? The director's guess is as good as mine.

Ramius is informed that the Political Officer (Peter Firth) is waiting for him in his cabin. He goes there and finds the PO reading Ramius's jounal. Ramius politely chews him out for invading his privacy. The PO tells him that privacy is often contrary to the collective good. He reads a verse from The Revelations that Ramius has written in the journal. The verse uses the word Armageddon. This word is the same in both languages. On that word, the movie switches from Russian with subtitles to English. Since so much of it takes place on the Red October, I'm glad that they did something like this. I don't care much for subtitled films. I find myself reading the subtitles instead of paying attention to the movie – even if it's just closed captioning of English dialog.

The PO is beginning to have concerns about Ramius. He's reading about the end of the world with Revelations. He also had something there that quoted Oppenheimer quoting the Hindu holy book - “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Not exactly what you want the commander of a boomer to be reading. Ramius calms the PO by telling him that the book was his late wife's.

Ramius asks the PO how many KGB agents are on board his boat. The PO points out that the boat belongs to the people of the Soviet Union. Besides, if they did have agents on board, the PO would be the last to know. Ramius asking about KGB agents is Chekov's gun – if you hang a gun on stage in Act 1, it will be fired by Act 3. If Ramius is asking about KGB agents, at least one will show up later.

They drink tea and open their orders. I really wonder why orders like these were considered so hush-hush that they had to be locked up, etc. They are basically supposed to do sea trials and a weapon certification with another submarine. For something like this, we'd know all about it before we left port. Of course, if it wasn't all super sneaky and secret orders for a mundane mission, there wouldn't be much of a plot.

As they drink tea and discuss the orders, the PO gets all excited. He asks that he be allowed to post the orders and inform the crew of their mission. Why? Like I said, they are just doing sea trials and weapon certification. That is nothing to get excited about. Of course, Ramius kills him, spills some tea on the ground, and claims that he slipped. And nobody suspects anything? Granted, most of the senior officers are in on the plot, but the doctor (Tim Curry) isn't in on the plot and sees the results of more accidents than most. He does come off as relatively naive, though. The Soviets also didn't go in much for questioning authority.

End of part 1.
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Pronounced "Fish."
Validated User
Jack Ryan walks through a water tight door and onto a floating drydock. The drydock is supposed to be in Maryland. At one point, though, you see part of the banner stretched along the catwalk over the submarine. It has the drydock's motto on it - “Our Hands Preserve.” This is the motto of the USS Arco, the floating drydock that was based at Sub Base San Diego. While it wasn't my boat in the drydock when this was filmed, it easily could have been. I was in that drydock many times during my 4 years in San Diego.

Somebody tosses Ryan a hard hat. You needed one there. The subs were over 30' high, not counting the sail. They were supported over 6' off the ground. Anything dropped from topside would hurt a lot if it hit you in the head. There was probably a sign on the door that Ryan just walked through telling him that he was walking into a hardhat area, but he blew it off until a worker interrupted his own business to get one and toss it to him. Jack Ryan is a jerk.

Ryan sees his old friend, Skip Tyler (Jeffrey Jones) on a platform about half way down the length of the boat. He is overseeing a Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle being loaded onto the sub. I have no idea why he was doing this from a platform that was down inside of the drydock. He really couldn't see anything from there. He would be much more likely to be on the side of the drydock, topside on the sub, on the sub's bridge, or on the catwalk. He'd also be talking on the radio to the crane operator instead of yelling at people.

They are there to rig the DSRV with a generic docking collar so that it can mate with the hatches of different subs. Ummm... no. First, it doesn't have a docking collar. The DSRV has a big bowl shaped skirt around the bottom of its hatch. This skirt is big enough to fit around any hatch of any sub. It is high enough that the sub's hatch can be opened when the bottom of the skirt is sealed to the top of the sub. Set the DSRV on the sub, pump out the water, and beat on the hatch to let the crew of the sub know that they can open it.

Second, you don't fit a DSRV with a new collar in a drydock with a Sturgeon class submarine. You do that in a machine shop or a hangar or something. There really isn't room to do that kind of thing in an occupied drydock.

The DSRV being shown and discussed here is another case of Chekov's Gun. You'll be seeing this thing later.

Skip brags that we can get the DSRV anywhere in the world in 24 hours. Well, sort of. They are small enough to be flown in some of our military cargo planes. They can then be flown to the closest port to where they are needed. That's when things slow down. You have to load them onto a sub or a ship with a big enough crane to handle them. If there happens to be one close enough that you can just load it up, great. If not, you have to wait. Even after you load it onto the sub or ship, you then have to get it to where it is needed at around 20 knots. So we can get it anywhere in the world in 24 hours if we have the cargo planes in the right place and are lucky enough to have a tending vessel on hand where it's needed.

Skip asks how Jack's back is doing.

Skip looks at the pictures of the Red October and the two of them talk about possibilities. Jack asks if it could be a towed sonar array. Skip says that it isn't because it is too close to the screws. This is true. The Red October also already has a towed array, anyway. It has the big bulge on top of the rudder where the Soviets put them.

Skip then comes up with what it is. It's a caterpillar drive. Since the Red October's PO mentioned it right before he died, the audience knows that he is right. As Skip says, we tried it and couldn't get it to work. Nobody could. That's because it doesn't work.

They talk about how quiet this drive is. Skip doubts that our sonar would pick it up. If it did pick up the noise, it wouldn't recognize it. This may be true, but it is really irrelevant. We don't rely on hearing a sub's screw to track it. We sometimes got sounds from the main engines or the reduction gears, but we could also pick up a frequency from the turbo-generators or one of the many pumps that are needed to keep the reactor up and running. Since both drives are powered by the same generators and reactors, we might not have noticed when they switched drives. Of course, that would kill the whole plot.

As they were talking about the caterpillar drive, they kept getting bathed with a flickering light. At first, I was wondering what kind of alarm or something it was supposed to represent. This made no sense. Then it hit me. The flickering light was welding flash. That makes a hell of a lot of sense.

Back on the Red October. The PO has been put into a body bag. I don't know how it would be on a Russian sub, but on an American sub, he would be stuck in the freezer until we pulled in to port. The same freezer that all of our meals are coming from. I never saw it happen – the only death that I saw while I was in happened on a sub tender in port. I would imagine that we would stop thinking about the corpse in with the food after a while. What else can you do? You have to eat.

The doctor assumes that the Red October is going to pull in. Ramius assures him that the Soviet Navy does not cancel operations over accidents. The US Navy damned sure does. Before I got there, the USS Alabama got relieved from her patrol briefly to drop off an injured crewman. On my second patrol on the Alabama, we left our patrol area and surfaced – while still on patrol – to drop off a crewman whose newborn child was dying. While a dead man is not as urgent as either of these cases, we still would have pulled in.

Ramius grabs a random crewman – a cook's assistant – to witness him taking the PO's missile launch key. Naturally, the random crewman is eventually revealed to be the KGB agent. The doctor is shocked that Ramius is keeping both launch keys. He recommends that he himself be given the other key. In Ramius's position, I would have given the second key to the XO, just to throw off any suspicion.

The Captain of the Dallas, Bart Mancuso (Scott Glenn) is in Sonar, staring at the screen over Jones's shoulder. Jones calls the contact a Typhoon right before the computer identifies it as an unknown Typhoon. I don't think that we had any kind of a computer that could analyze sounds like that. What we had were experienced operators who could make the calls themselves based on the frequencies of the noises that we were getting. We wouldn't have known it was new boat unless our intelligence let us know. And our intelligence would have known that the Red October was about to sail. When your satellites show a sub that has never been to sea before loading torpedoes, missiles, and lots of food,. you know that they are pulling out soon.

Mancuso is wearing a poopy suit, which is accurate. I've never seen anyone wearing their ribbons on their suits, though – just rank and dolphins for being submarine qualified. Mancuso appears to be the only person on the Dallas to wear a poopy suit, though.

Seaman Beaumont, Jones's UI, asks if the sub they are following will hear them. “Not if we stay in his baffles.” The baffles are the area right behind the screws that are full of turbulent water. Staying in your opponent's baffles was a good tactic in tracking a sub. You had to be careful, though, as we see later. All subs maneuvered regularly to make sure that nobody was following them. This was called “clearing the baffles.”

Ramius walks into the control room and asks the watchstanders if there are any submerged or surface contacts. When he is told that they have no contacts, he announces the mission to the crew. Before he makes the announcement, you hear a lout wailing whistling noise. This noise was a Boatswain's (or bosuns) pipe. They were used back in the Age of Sail to play certain tunes that were orders. They were loud and shrill so that they could be heard al over the ship. I never heard it aboard a sub. They used them some on surface ships. I don't know if the Soviets ever used them.

Ramius makes a stirring speech in which he talks about the heady days of Sputnik and Yuri Gugarin. These days, it's easy to forget the fact that the Russians led the start of the Space Race. Ramius goes on to tell the crew that they will sit off the coast of New York City running missile drills, then head for Havana. Everybody celebrates except for the assistant cook/KGB spy,. who looks confused. He knows what their real orders are.

Really, they couldn't make the trip. Command was expecting them to do sea trials. They would only have enough food on board for a few weeks. Doing a load-out for a longer run would have given away his plans to hijack the sub. The crew would have known how much food they had on board – after all, they are the ones who loaded it.

As the Red October engages the caterpillar drive and disappears from the Dallas's sonar (which it wouldn't unless it also shut down the reactor and all machinery that supports it), the crew starts to sing the Russian national hymn.

Right after the Red October engages the caterpillar, they do a hard turn. This is what you would really do. As soon as they do, they pick up the Dallas and immediately identify it as a Los Angeles class fast attack. They also immediately know that it doesn't change course to pursue them. If you've read any of my earlier reviews, you know that passive sonar tells you two things – the bearing to the target and the frequency of the noise that they are making. If you analyze these over time, you can learn a lot about what your target is doing. You don't know anything until you have done the Target Motion Analysis (TMA). Even then, though, a targeting solution is just a guess.

On the Dallas, Jones runs a diagnostic on the sonar gear to make sure that it is running correctly. They probably wouldn't. You lose sonar contacts all the time. You usually regain them again shortly.

Jones said that their target was 4000 yards off the port bow when it disappeared. Nope. 4000 yards is knife fighting range for a sub. You don't get that close unless you have to. You want to stay as far back from the quarry as possible. Their sonar wasn't as good as ours, and our subs were quieter. You want to stay outside of their detection range but inside of ours – even if you're in their baffles. They'll maneuver regularly to clear their baffles.

The Dallas has a different kind of magic sonar than the subs in the other movies have had. While it is not capable of hearing any sounds that are not coming directly from a target's propulsion train, it can still hear singing from inside of a ship's hull.

What is it with singing and sonar, anyway? In both Down Periscope and this movie, even if sonar can't hear anything else, it can hear singing.

OK, I'm afraid that I have to admit it. This is 100% true. We were absolutely forbidden from singing underway. They even had signs up in the showers reminding us that, if we ever sang, we would be guaranteeing detection by any sonar anywhere in the world. You people thought that the slogan “Loose lips sink ships” was about operational security? Nope. It was about singing on submarines.

At Russian high command, the admiral's aide says “There is a letter here from Marco Ramius.” Odds are good that the admiral's staff would know the name of his top sub commander. He's say “Captain Ramius.” The admiral sits down to enjoy the personal letter with his morning coffee., When he gets to the gist of the letter, he spills the coffee. His morning has been ruined. Ramius is a jerk, too.

Jack Ryan is in an archive somewhere digging through boxes of paperwork when the phone rings. Admiral Greer wants him again. When he meets Greer. Ryan says “I got a line on those doors.” In other words, he went to his hotel, he slept, he went to wherever he was digging through boxes, and only thought to tell the DDI of the CIA about the super silent submarine drive that could result in the Cold War ending with a Soviet Victory when he met the man the next day?

As it happens, though, Greer already knows. Mancuso radioed in that they had been tracking a new Typhoon and lost her. There is only one problem with this. When you are operating right off the coast of the Soviet Union, YOU DO NOT BROADCAST ANYTHING, EVER. (Not that I ever operated off the coast of the Soviet Union, or anything. All I did was training operations in international waters.) If you broadcast anything, you might as well surface and wave a huge flag while screaming “HERE I AM!” It's not exactly stealthy. It's almost as likely to be detected as the crew singing.

Apparently, as a result of Ramius's letter, the Soviets immediately sortied almost their entire fleet. I'm afraid not. It takes time to get a fleet moving. Ships just don't generally carry enough supplies and fuel for long runs.

Jack Ryan has no clue as to where he is. He's just following Greer, talking. About super secret stuff. In a hallway. There is no such thing as a hallway where it is ok to talk about super secret stuff. You don't just have to have the clearance to know about this stuff – you also have to have the need to know. A lot of people could overhear any hallway conversation who did not have the need to know.

Jack is so wrapped up in the conversation that wouldn't have been happening that he doesn't notice where they are. Greer asks for his ID and he hands it over without question and without thinking. Finally, he asks where they are going. “To a briefing for the head of the NSA.” “Oh. Who is giving the briefing?” “You are.” Admiral Greer is also a jerk.

In his briefing, Jack talks about 50 Soviet attack subs heading for the Atlantic. Even if they could get supplies loaded on that fast, how do we know where they are going? Jack isn't talking about intel – he's just showing pictures (and it's kinda tough to get satellite pictures of a sub that is at 400'). Have they gone far enough to be detected by our SOSUS arrays yet? (Yes, these arrays of fixed sonar installations in the North Atlantic do exist, and yes, they are that good).

There appears to be another reason, along with being that good, for Ramius to take out all of the new subs. The admiral in charge who he sent the letter to is his wife's uncle. Good old nepotism. Through some channel, we know about Ramius's letter. They don't know the contents, but they know that right after he read the letter, the admiral met with the Soviet premier, and the fleet started to sortie right after that. Looks like the admiral's secretary decided that somebody had to PAY for making him make the admiral's coffee twice. Oh, and they are planning to sink the Red October.

The room erupts into a furor about WWIII. Jack Ryan sits quietly and thinks. He looks at Ramius's picture. He asks Greer to verify the date. He starts smiling and laughs “You son of a bitch!” loudly enough to get the attention of everyone in the room. The NSA (Richard Jordan) snarkily asks “Would you like to add something to our discussion, Dr. Ryan?” The NSA is a jerk.

Jack explains that he thinks that Ramius is trying to defect. One of the other dignitaries there starts to put him down, but the NSA says “Proceed, Dr. Ryan.” Ryan points out that Ramius could easily have picked officers who would have been willing to help him. He's not Russian – he's Lithuanian. He has no children, and no ties to leave behind. And it is the first anniversary of his wife's death. Ryan responds to skepticism by pointing out that Ramius is a legend in the submarine community (as a part of the submarine community, I never knew the names of any Soviet captains who were operating when I was in). The NSA asks how long it will take until the Red October is in range to launch. He is told that it will take 4 days. Their missiles must have a much shorter range than ours. When I was on the Alabama, rumor had it that we could launch from the pier and hit Russia. The whole point of being out and submerged was to avoid being taken out by a first strike.

The NSA dismisses everyone except for Jack. Uh, oh. If the brass know who you are, they expect more out of you. The NSA tells Ryan that, as a politician, he keeps his options open. He asks Ryan what he should do if Ryan is right. Ryan says to contact our commanders in the Atlantic directly – if the Russians get a whiff of what is going down, the game is up. Second, he recommends that we grab the sub. The NSA laughs. “This isn't a guy with a MiG.” He's referring to Viktor Belenko.

Ryan's third point is to put someone in contact with Ramius. The NSA says “OK, when do you leave?” See? When they know who you are... Jack points out that he's just an analyst. The NSA says that he is the perfect man for the job. He believes in it. Nobody else will put their careers on the line for it. And he's expendable. The NSA gives him 3 days.

Next we see the Alfa that the Red October was supposed to be playing wargames with. It is at periscope depth with an antenna up to capture a broadcast. First, it's a whip antenna, like you would expect to see on a car. Putting one on a submarine is laughable. The force of the sub moving through the water would lay any flexible antenna down. Second, the front of the sail occasionally pokes out of the water. Yes. This happened occasionally – especially on the Tridents, where that big, flat deck over the missile tubes would just suck you to the surface – sometimes high enough to broach the fairwater planes on the sides of the sail. When those things went back into the water, the smack it made was LOUD. It was still a Bad Thing. Third, they don't have any periscopes up. There is a reason why it is called Periscope Depth. It's because that is where you can see through the periscope. When you are at periscope depth, you can't be seen very well by surface ships (even if you broach the top of the sail a lot). If you can't see them – by, say, LOOKING OUT A PERISCOPE, you could easily get rammed and sunk. Permanently, this time.

The Alfa gets a radio message that is 7 hours old. They have been sitting there waiting for the Red October to show, not knowing that they have been ordered to hunt them down and kill them. It's not their fault – subs come to periscope depth at scheduled times to copy broadcasts. If you give them an order when they aren't scheduled to come up to periscope depth, you can't expect them to get the order.

When he does read the order, Captain Tupolev is highly irate. He orders the crew to go to Ahead Flank (as fast as you can go, limited by 100% reactor power or 100% steam flow, whichever you hit first). He further orders them to go to 105% power. Not NO, but HELL NO.

First, you do not EVER intentionally exceed power limitations. They are there for a reason.

Second, let's look at the math. Let's say that everything is linear. 10% steam flow gets you 10 RPM and 10RPM gets you 5 knots. At 100RPM, you would be doing 50 knots. At 105% reactor power, you would be doing 52.5 knots. If you spent a full day exceeding the limits like that, you would go an extra 60 miles. Is that worth the risk of damaging your ship and irradiating your crew?

Finally, because of both of the above, if you made it back into port after your foolish excursion, if you were an American captain, you'd be looking for a new job. If you were a Soviet captain, you would be rewarded for your zeal by being given a challenging position as a potato farmer at a gulag in Siberia.

I'd like to say three words about Alfa class submarines. Small, fast, and noisy. IIRC, they were the first subs to have titanium hulls. This has its good side and its down side. On the plus side, they can dive deeper. On the minus side, the more time you spend at deep depths, the more the hull gets damaged. The US decided to stick with good old really thick and really hard steel. I'm perfectly fine with that.

On the Dallas, Jones is listening to a reel-to-reel tape recorder. They did record everything that was heard and said in sonar on reel-to-reel tapes. I think that one of the screens that you see was supposed to be the waterfall display, but they were way off.

On the Red October, it's chow time. The XO, Captain Second Rank Vasily Borodin (Sam Neill) sends the doctor to get the latest radiation reports. He is getting him out of the way so that they can discuss their defection. Frankly, it's a stupid plan. If Ryan hadn't figured out what was going on and intercepted him, he would have been sunk by either their Navy or ours.

All of the officers are in on the defection. They were not, however, all in with the murder of the PO. Everybody is arguing and nobody is eating except for Ramius. One of the officers wants to go back. Ramius says the first thing that he has said in the argument. He tells the other officers about the letter that he sent. There is no going back.

The officers are aghast. They demand to know why he sent this letter. He replies that, upon arriving in the New World, Cortez burned his ships. As a result, his men were well motivated. Cortez was a jerk., So is Ramius.

Ramius says that he started to come up with his plan when he first saw the designs for the Red October. He realized then that the sub had one purpose only – to start a nuclear war. Is that its only purpose? Yes and no. Our Trident subs were quieter than anything that came before them. Did we use them to start a war? Or did we use them to make sure that we had the means for Mutually Assured Destruction?

But that is how it looked to us. Did it look the same to the Soviets? We sent our boomers out on Strategic Deterrent Patrols. As I said in my review of Crimson Tide, though, I have heard that the Russian language has no word for “deterrent.” The closest word that it has is “intimidation.” Since I don't speak Russian, I'm not positive about this, but according to Taross, the Dutch translation comes close to what I heard about Russian, so it could be true.

After telling his officers that he puts their chances of survival at 1 in 3 (and he apparently hasn't considered the US response), Ramius dismisses his officers to return to their posts. Of course, he is the only one who has actually eaten anything during the entire meal. Ramius is a jerk.

While the rest of the officers are in the room, the XO backs up Ramius. As soon as they all leave, though, he tells Ramius that it would have been better if he had not informed Moscow. If you read my review of Crimson Tide or Down Periscope, you know that this is How It's Done. The CO and XO put up a solid front in public. If they disagree, it is in private.

Ramius confesses to his XO that he is not really worried about the Soviet Navy. He knows them. He knows their tactics. What he's worried about is the Americans. If he meets the right sort, they're fine. If they meet some buckaroo...

End of part 2.
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Pronounced "Fish."
Validated User
Here is part 3. If a mod could move this to the reserved spot, I would greatly appreciate it.

Ryan is on a small plane heading toward the USS Enterprise. The plane is getting tossed around by turbulence. Ryan is not happy. He's wearing the uniform of a Naval Commander. The plane's radioman sees Ryan looking queasy and does his best to make him sick by telling stories of even worse turbulence. This happens on subs all too often. I never found it particularly amusing.

On the Dallas again, Captain Mancuso is checking out one of the charts when Jones tells him that he was able to isolate the sound of the caterpillar drive. Yay! Now they can track the drive (along with the reactor plant and all of the various auxiliaries). When he asks the computer to analyze it, the computer calls it some kind of a magma disturbance. According to Jones, the software for the computer (the existence of which I doubt) was originally written for seismic research. I REALLY doubt this. While the Navy did re-purpose a lot of stuff (the sanitary pumps on the Trident were supposedly designed to pump tomatoes in a catsup factory), anything designed for Sonar, Fire Control, or the reactor plant are more likely to be produced for the Navy first, then adapted for other uses.

Jones lays out a path of detections that he has made over the hours using his new method. He somehow got the range to the target at every one of the detections. Sorry, passive sonar still doesn't give you the range without time and effort spent doing TMA. Thanks for playing!

Jones says that there is an area of shallow water canyons that the Soviets have very well charted. Due to the accuracy of these charts, theSoviets can run them at high speed. According to the line that he draws on the chart, the Red October is heading straight for these canyons.

Mancuso agrees with Jones. He decides to meet the Red October at the south end of the canyons. In the mean time, they come to periscope depth to report. They probably have the huge flag mounted onto the radio whip antenna mast (since they won't be raising any periscopes or anything). They'll broadcast “WE'RE HERE!” from the active sonar. Then, they'll organize the crew in the crew's mess for a little sing along.

On the Enterprise, Jack has a chat with the captain of the Enterprise and the admiral in charge of the Enterprise battle group. Apparently, the current plan is to keep the Red October for a few days while we study it, then give it back to the Soviets. The admiral (Fred Dalton Thompson) doesn't think much of this idea. That's not long enough to learn anything about it. We'd need to keep it longer and do a through study. For that, we would need to come up with some plan to get the crew off of the submarine without their knowing that we plan to keep it.

The admiral sees just how tired Jack is and sends him to bed. After he leaves, the captain and the admiral discuss Jack. The captain thinks Ryan is crazy, and really doesn't like him wearing a Naval officer's uniform. The admiral points out Jack's ring. He was in the Naval Academy, class of '72. He was in a helicopter accident during his third year. The pilot and crew were killed. Ryan spent 10 months in traction before learning how to walk again. He did his 4th year from the hospital. The admiral ends the conversation by saying “The Russians are going to find that sub before we get to it, anyway.”

Naturally, the next shot is an external shot of the Red October (you can tell quickly – the Dallas is more round and has one screw, while the Red October is more of an oval shape and has two screws). There are no zinc bars here, either. I assume that they used them – they have to use something to keep the hulls from corroding, and the zinc bars are the easiest way.

They are passing Thor's Twins and going into the shallow water canyons that Jones mentioned before. I don't care how much data they have on canyons like that. If the sub is going into an area where the surrounding sea bottom is shallower than the sub, you can go ahead and let me out here. I'll swim the rest of the way, thank you.

They set a particular course, speed and depth and start out. This whole thing is a Bad Idea.

Navigation underwater is pretty much all done by dead reckoning. We have been going this speed in this direction for this long, so we are here. This is not exactly what you can call accurate. It doesn't take currents into account at all. Even if they could come to periscope depth and use GPS, back then even the military system had an error range that was measured in yards. As close as those walls got, they would have run aground even on GPS. To top it off,. They did not come up to periscope depth to get a better fix on their starting position before they began. That crunch you just heard was them hitting a wall. Oh, well. At least it was only the sonar dome. They can limp back to port and wait for their trials and executions.

Ramius comes in when they are at the first turn. The navigator calls out the course, speed, and depth. Ramius changes the speed to 26 knots and tells the navigator to recompute. Sorry, but I have to throw the bullshit flag on this one. Changing everything like this puts more stress on everyone for no damned reason. It doesn't lower their chances of getting through the maze of canyons blind any, though. It was already 0%.

I don't know. The Soviets may actually have done runs like this. I never operated in the North Atlantic. If they did do runs like it, though, you can bet that they knew EXACTLY what their starting point was – they didn't just start the run blind like the Red October does here.

As the Red October turns, she leans into the turn. While submarines did sort of fly through the water, they actually leaned outward from the turn – more like a car than a plane. The rudder provided all of the turning force. The stern planes and fairwater planes only provided lift.

As they are making the run, there is a problem with the cryogenic unit that cools the caterpillar drive. It's making a lot of noise, and the temperatures are much higher than normal. They have to shut down the drive. The doctor asks if there is any radiation leakage. “No, it was a power spike. The reactor scrammed normally.” Wait. You had a problem with your propulsion system and you had a reactor scram, and you didn't bother to report the scram to your captain? Even if you did have two reactors, I would think that the report would be “Reactor scram on Reactor #2! Oh, and that noise is a problem with the caterpillar drive.”

Because the caterpillar drive is down for the near future, they switch over to the normal drive. “But we won't be silent?” So? You weren't really silent before. You just thought you were. And besides, right now, you are alone in those ridiculous canyons. As long as nobody on the crew starts singing, you'll be fine.

The Soviet ambassador (Joss Ackland) is in the NSA's office. The NSA is chewing him out about all of the Russian naval movements in the Atlantic. Of course, the NSA knows what it is about, but you have to keep up appearances. The ambassador dismisses it as an exercise, but the NSA points out that an “exercise” could be a prelude to war. The NSA threatens to deploy OUR forces and points out the possible repercussions of having so many of our ships and aircraft up right alongside their ships and aircraft. The ambassador finally admits the “truth.” They have lost one of their submarines. It is embarrassing, but several of the officers are sons of high ranking politicians... “You're telling me this is a massive rescue operation?” “That is correct.” “How can we help?”

As the ambassador rapidly backpedals, our view shifts to a Soviet ASW airplane. A bored looking crewman comes fully awake when one of his displays lights up. He calls the pilot.

On the Dead October – I mean, the RED October – Ramius is on the phone with his engineer, trying to get information about when the caterpillar drive will be fixed. The whole Soviet Navy will hear them if they don't get the caterpillar drive fixed. I guess that the reduction gears put out some sort of harmonic vibration that sounds just like singing.

Sonar reports a small multi-engined turboprop overhead. They are right to be concerned. Only three types of aircraft in both of our navies are small, multi-engined turboprops – cargo planes, AWACS radar planes, and Anti-submraine warfare planes. Which of these three do you think is most likely to be flying low over this area? They aren't really surprised when they start hearing sonobuoys splashing down.

Normally, we weren't too worried about ASW aircraft. You could hear the sonobuoys hit the water and avoid them easily. But that assumes that you have room to maneuver. They are still in those shallow canyons. The captain calls away battle stations. Which battle stations? Boomers have Battle Stations Torpedo and Battle Stations Missile. Obviously they would want Battle Stations Torpedo here, but some of the crew are asleep, others are off watch... You want as little confusion as possible.

One of the officers asks if they should bottom the boat. I don't know – the Soviets may be able to do that. We never did. Ramius rejects the idea, though – they don't have time. You'd want to be at a full stop, and then you'd want to come down very gently. Instead, he has the crew prepare to launch a full spread of countermeasures. The plane launches a torpedo. Since they can't maneuver, they have to hope that the torpedo will lose them in the countermeasures. It does, briefly, but it reacquires. They speed up and recalculate the next turn. Ramius delays the turn and has the collision alarm sounded. The navigator panics and reminds Ramius that they are out of position and … that crunch you heard followed by the boom was the sub hitting the wall followed by the torpedo hitting them. These canyons will now be much harder to navigate, with a sunken sub sticking out of the canyon wall like that. Except that, in the movie, the sub makes the turn, but the torpedo doesn't.

I would like to point out one thing about the torpedo. As it kept getting closer, the pings from its sonar kept getting louder and kept coming more rapidly. While it made everything much more dramatic, it is actually dead on. A torpedo will send out a single ping, and it will listen for the return. When it gets a return, it moves to close with the return and pings again. The closer it gets, the more quickly its ping gets returned, so the more quickly it pings again.

However, this movie gets the same hit that Crimson Tide got (Nobody launched torpedoes at the boats in Down Periscope or Operation Petticoat, but if they had, I am sure that they would have been just as guilty). They keep calling out the time until the torpedo hits. They don't know. They know the bearing to the torpedo, but not the range.

They discover the reason for the caterpillar drive's malfunction. It was done intentionally. They have a saboteur on board. DUN DUN DUNNNN! The captain tells his officers that they might have to put the crew off before they planned...

Ryan is in the shower. He quotes the admiral. “The average Russkie doesn't take a dump without a plan.” That makes him think – Jack doesn't have to come up with a plan to get the crew off of the Red October. Ramius has already done that (and we know from the previous scene that this is true). As Jack is shaving, he says “They'd have to want to get off. How do you get the crew to want to get off of a submarine?”

I watched this movie once while underway on my first boat. When he said that line, the crew's mess erupted into laughter. One guy shouted “Open the hatches!” Someone else yelled “No! All you have to do is PUT THEM ON the submarine!” We were all laughing so hard that we missed the next several minutes of the movie.

When he goes to report his new revelation to the admiral, things have heated up. One of our F-14s has bumped a Russian bomber that got too close to our battle group. The CO of the Enterprise shows Jack the current situation. There are Soviet attack subs off of every major east coast city. There are a lot of Soviet ships and submarines coming down from the north, pinging away aggressively on their active sonars. But nobody is listening. They are all doing 30+ knots. You can't hear anything at that speed. Jack realizes that they aren't tracking the Red October. They are driving it. They are herding the Red October into the attack submarines that are off the coast of the US cities.

Ryan notices the Dallas off by itself. He asks the admiral about it. The admiral scoffs a bit. “That's Bart Mancuso's boat. He's off chasing a seismic anomaly.” Jack's ears perk up. That is one of the things that his friend Skip said the caterpillar drive may sound like. “Admiral is there any way I can get aboard the Dallas?”

The admiral doesn't want to send him. He thinks that the Dallas is on a wild goose chase, and besides, the only way that he can get Ryan out there is to put him on a helicopter. And he'd have to strip everything off of it and turn it into a flying gas can to give it the range. As the damaged F-14 crashes on the flight deck, Ryan gets his helicopter.

As he's getting onto the chopper in his survival gear, one of the flight deck guys is telling him about the water temperature. In water that cold, even in his insulated suit, he'll only have about 4 minutes. This was true. In most of the waters that we operated in, if we had to abandon ship (and if we'd been able to – the escape trunks only worked down to about 300'), we were more concerned with hypothermia than we were with sharks.

Jack has developed a mantra during the course of this movie. “Next time, Jack, write a god damned memo.”
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Pronounced "Fish."
Validated User
Here is the fourth and final installment in this review. If one of the mods could please move it to the reserved post, I would really appreciate it.

On the Dallas (which has not yet received the message telling them to pick up Jack), everyone is giving Jones a hard time. The CoB says “I've seen a mermaid. I've seen a shark eating a whale. But I've never seen a phantom Russian submarine.” Of course, that's when Jones hears the Red October.

On the Red October, Ramius and his XO are having a discussion in the captain's cabin. The XO points out that they could reach the Labrador coast in 18 hours. “No, half of the crew would freeze to death before they were rescued. It's Massachusetts or Maine.” The XO asks Ramius if they will let him live in Montana. “I'd imagine that they will let you live wherever you like.” So the XO decides that he will live in Montana, marry a round American woman, raise rabbits, and she will cook them for him. He will own a pickup truck, or maybe even a large recreational vehicle, and drive from state to state. Why, yes, that IS a target that just appeared on the XO's back!

The Red October clears baffles. Jones has been feeding the bearings to the people who are doing Target Motion Analysis. The guy doing the Time Bearing plot calls away a possible target zig based on bearing rate. He has been tracking the bearing to the target every 15 seconds (I always hated Time Bearing plot). It has been making a more or less smooth line. Suddenly, the bearings started taking off in a different direction. This means that the target has maneuvered somehow.

Jones calls away a Crazy Ivan. I've heard of a Crazy Ivan maneuver in two places – this movie, and the book.

When Jones calls away the Crazy Ivan, Mancuso calls “All stop! Rig for silent running!” We actually rig for Ulta-Quiet, but it doesn't matter. It''s too late already. By the time all of the spaces rig for Ultra -Quiet, the scene will be over. They would have rigged for Ultra-Quiet before they ever got this close.

The view moves outside, where the screw of the sub slows and stops. This would not happen. The sub is still coasting through the water. The force of the water flowing past the screw would keep it spinning for a good while. This is something else that pretty much every sub movie does wrong.

Jones explains the Crazy Ivan to his UI. He should have told him about it before. Really, it's just clearing the baffles. But since boats don't stop on a dime (unless you stop the shaft with steam, which makes a lot of noise), they are worried about coasting up into them and colliding. That's why, as I said before, we stay THOUSANDS OF YARDS back. Of course, that wouldn't be as dramatic.

The Red October does a complete circle. This circle takes her complete around the Dallas. Without ever detecting her. Yeah, right.

Of course, this is when they get the message to go pick up Jack.

Speaking of Jack, he's at the area, they are almost out of fuel, but there is no Dallas. The helicopter crew wants to head back, but Jack makes them cut into their 10 minutes of reserve fuel. Sure enough, they see the Dallas come up. The part of the Dallas is now being played by the USS Louisville.

The people on the Dallas are not happy. It is a dark and cloudy day. They are being forced to do an evolution that they have never done before. They have a diver in the escape trunk in case he is needed (he's in a dry suit, so he doesn't have to worry about hypothermia – we had about 4 divers, and they did have Navy issue gear like that on board). Someone takes a big metal hook up onto the bridge. They talk about how much static electricity the helicopter's rotors are kicking up on a day like today. This is right on the money. We actually did have one of those hooks. It has a cable on one end so that you could ground it to the hull. The other end was the hook that you could grab the person being lowered down with to ground out the static.

They try to lower Jack onto the bridge. It would be easier to lower him to the deck just aft of the sail. In fact, the whole evolution would look a lot like this picture.

It's the XO with the hook. Why is it that, in any movie, if something needs to be done, you have the highest ranking guy possible do it? For that matter, where are the lookouts? I guess the scopes are down to not give the cable anything to hook on, just in case.

The crosswinds are making the whole thing more difficult. The XO manages to get badly shocked. He falls off of the bridge, but is held on by his harness (yes, they did wear harnesses on the bridge in rough weather). Mancuso is tending to the XO, so nobody is trying to bring in Jack. That's another reason why they would have more people up there. The helicopter is about to bring Ryan back up and head for home, but he disconnects from the cable and drops into the ocean. The diver comes out of the escape trunk and gets him, the chopper heads back to the Enterprise, and the Dallas dives again.

Mancuso comes down the ladder from the bridge, calls for the doc and says that he'll be in the escape trunk. He doesn't say which one - there are three. As he approaches a ladder, he yells “Down ladder!” as he approaches the ladder, then “Make a hole!” That's really what he'd say. I'll assume that, unlike most Navy speak, you can all figure it out.

The captain goes down two decks and a bit aft before he gets to where they are laying a very wet Jack Ryan on the deck. What? I never noticed this before. All of the escape trunks are in Upper Level. One is just aft of the Control Room – that is probably the one that they would have used.

The Soviet ambassador is back with the head of the NSA. He confesses that Ramius plans to launch his missiles at the US. The ambassador himself wasn't told the whole truth before (or so he claims). While they refused help when it was a rescue mission, they now want help in sinking the Red October.

Jack briefs Mancuso on the Red October's probable defection. Unfortunately, Mancuso has just received orders to prevent the Red October from approaching the coast.

They go to battle stations (Why? They never mentioned re-establishing contact with the Red October, and if you keep your crew at battle stations for hours on end as you look for your target, you wear them out unnecessarily). They rig the Control Room for red. This looks impressive, but it wouldn't be done here. You rig for red shortly before you come to periscope depth at night to preserve the officer of the deck's night vision. The navigator takes the conn and the deck. He is now the Officer of the Deck, and is in charge of the Control Room. Mancuso calls the OOD by his first name. In the Ward Room, the CO generally did call his junior officers by their first names (the junior officers still called him “Captain”). In the Control Room, he would have used the man's name and rank. They come to 1200'. Why? You only went deep for a reason. They reached that depth way too fast, as well.

You hear over the speaker system to rig the ship for Patrol Quiet. They have been rigged for Patrol Quiet since shortly after they left their home port.

They immediately re-acquire the Red October. The captain orders the OOD to come up behind the Red October. He immediately comes up to 500'. It's a really good thing that they went down to 1200', isn't it?

They are coming up fast behind the Red October. As Ryan tries to convince Mancuso that Ramius is trying to defect, they get a firing solution. Sorry, but it will take at least another couple of maneuvers for them to get a good firing solution. They could maybe have a decent one in half an hour. And what did they use to get this firing solution? Subs rely heavily on their towed arrays, since these are the best of their three sonar arrays. At this point, the towed array isn't stable yet after their turns and depth changes.

Ryan is losing Mancuso. He asks if he's made any Crazy Ivans. Ryan says that his next one will be to starboard, because Ramius always goes to starboard in the bottom half of the hour. It's a good thing that Jack is bluffing here. Ramius is supposed to be an excellent captain. An excellent captain is not that predictable.

Mancuso floods torpedo tubes 1 and 2. He has mentioned a few times how close they are to the Red October (although I have no idea why they are that close). If the Red October was on his starboard side, he would have flooded tubes 2 and 4. These tubes are on the port side, so the bulk of the ship would mask the sound from the Red October.

Mancuso is getting tired of Ryan badgering him. He has a chief called to the con with his sidearm. Nobody on board carries a sidearm. He would have to go to the small arms locker and check one out. An officer would have to meet him there with a key.

The Red October does a Crazy Ivan. Mancuso hesitates. He asks which way he's going. It's starboard. Mancuso orders All Back Full. This would stop the sub quickly – the only brakes that a sub has is to reverse the screw. But it is damned noisy. He is intentionally letting the Red October know that he is here. He then orders all stop.

On the Red October, the very surprised crew is reacting to the knowledge that they are not alone. They have the magical sonar that immediately gives you a full fix on your target. I wish that we had one of those back when I was in the Navy.

Ramius floods torpedo tubes 3 and 4. At this point it really doesn't matter if the Dallas hears it – the American sub knows that they are there. Ranuus tells the crew to plot a solution. Hell., he already has the range and bearing. If you have those, the course and speed are a piece of cake.

The fact that he is just now flooding his tubes and isn't opening the doors (Ramius decides not to) adds veracity to Ryan's story that he isn't a rogue captain. A rogue captain would have had the tubes flooded already - anything to be able to launch faster.

The Red October comes to periscope depth (the Dallas can tell from the sound of hull popping). The Dallas comes up to PD alongside him. Both subs raise scopes. Ryan gives Mancuso a message to get to Ramius. Mancuso flashes the signal light on the periscope to send the message to Ramius in Morse code. The number 1 scope is smaller than the number 2 scope. It isn't fancy – it's basically just a periscope. The number 2 scope is bigger (and easier to spot). It has a lot of stuff on it, including radio antennae and a video camera. One thing that neither scope has? A signal light for Morse code.

Mancuso and Ryan tell Ramius that he should not approach the coast because they think that he wants to launch. If he doesn't plan to launch, they have the Red October acknowledge with a single ping from active sonar. He does. It would have taken longer for an American sub to acknowledge – we would have had to clear the danger tags on the active sonar. You always hang them when you operate in Soviet waters – I mean, WHEN YOU DO TRAINING MISSIONS IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS.

The next message is for Ramius to go to the Laurentian Abyss. Ryan picked it because it is deep. Ramius again acknowledges with a single ping.

All of the shots of the Dallas following the Red October so closely do look cool, but they are far from accurate. As I mentioned before, they would be thousands of yards apart. Of course, it doesn't look very dramatic if the 4” black speck in on the right side of the screen is the Red October and the 3” speck on the left side of the screen is the Dallas.

When the Red October is just north of the Abyss, they have a major emergency on their reactor. And the fans won't shut down! Oh, no! This is completely unexpected! They have a leak from the primary! The engine room is contaminated, and the Radiation is going forward! And the Radiation has a knife! Whatever shall we do! Amazing – the CO asks how long they have on the batteries. The batteries are usually ignored on submarine movies. Well done! (they have 4-6 hours. Soviet battery technology was actually a bit ahead of ours).

Ramius plans to ventilate the sub. The doctor is frantic. The whole boat is contaminated! Just changing the air won't do! They have to get the men OFF! Doctor first! It's always best if you get your target to suggest what you want him to do.

The Red October surfaces. The men all go topside and set up the life rafts (We didn't carry any life rafts).

A frigate is closing with them. It signals that they are not to submerge or they will be fired upon. Ramius tells the doctor to go with the crew – he and the officers will submerge and scuttle the ship. You could scuttle the ship from the surface, really. You just have to open the seawater vent valves (normally used to prevent a bubble from forming at the high spots in the line when filling). Of course, they are worried about getting boarded. It would be easy enough to close the valves.

A helicopter from the frigate drops a torpedo at the Red October. The officer in charge starts calling out the range to the target. If the torpedo was wire guided, they would have that information. Aircraft launched torpedoes couldn't be wire guided. A hand reaches down and hits the button to detonate the torpedo when it is 300 yards from the Red October. Admiral Greer was not on board and he didn't detonate the torpedo before it hit.

The Dallas now has a DSRV on it. Mancuso, Ryan, and Jones get on board. The guy who plays the pilot of the DSRV? His day job was piloting a DSRV.

As they dock, Mancuso hands Ryan a sidearm. He and Jones are already armed. The DSRV pilot uses a highly sophisticated signaling device to let the Red October know to open the hatch. It's a short handled sledge hammer. He bangs on the hatch twice and the Red October officers open up.

The officer is friendly enough and takes them to the Control Room. He apparently doesn't speak English, though. In the Control Room, the Americans and the Soviets just stare at each other.

To break the ice, Ryan, who doesn't smoke, gestures to bum a cigarette from the Red October's engineer. The engineer laughs and says in (subtitled) Russian that Ryan is turning green. Ramius notices Mancuso's sidearm and says something in Russian. Ryan laughs. Mancuso asks what is so funny. Ryan translates that Ramius seems to think that Mancuso is some sort of cowboy.

Ramius says (in subtitled Russian) “You speak Russian.” Ryan replies (also in subtitled Russian ) “A little. It pays to learn the ways of your adversary.” Ramius replies, in English, “I agree.”

Ramius wasn't pleased about the torpedo. Ryan explains that it was necessary to maintain the appearances for the crew. He assures Ramius that the crew was being rescued. Ramius presents the Red October to Captain Mancuso and states that he and his officers wish to defect. At that time, they hear a torpedo whizzing by. Funny – it never went active. The Russians suspect the Americans again, but Jones shakes his head. “The pitch is too high. It's Russian.”

The Admiral who isn't on the frigate is frantic. “What do you mean, another torpedo!”

Then, and only then, do they pick up the Alfa. I'm afraid not. Alfas are NOISY. It would have been picked up long before it got a chance to launch.

The Alfa captain is not happy. He didn't hear a detonation. They were too close. The torpedo passed the Red October before it armed.

The Red October's crew on the surface think that the captain and officers are fighting the Americans.

Ramius assigns people to stations. He puts Ryan at the helm. “But I'm not a submarine officer. I write books for the CIA!” “Well, sit here and do exactly what I tell you.”

The Dallas goes to battle stations. This time, the control room lights turn blue. Whee! They go to a different random color every time they go to Battle Stations! I'll bet next time, they go purple.

The Alfa launches again,. With the RIGHT settings on the torpedo this time. Ramius gives Ryan a course. It is INTO the torpedo, not away from it. Mancuso countermands the order. Ramius stands firm. Ryan dithers a minute, then does what Ramius said. Except that he took too long, the torpedo hit, and they sink. Roll credits. Except that we are in Movie Time, so it hasn't hit yet.

Ramius asks Maneuvering for more power. They are already running at 110%. “Then give me 115%.” Sorry, but you are STILL risking a lot for very little gain. In the US Navy, a captain did have the right to intentionally violate reactor power limitations. When he pulled back in, he would have to defend his decision. And then he would have to find a new job, because there is really no good reason to ever exceed your limitations intentionally.

The crew of the Dallas has a firing solution, but since the Alfa didn't fire at them, they can't attack a Soviet submarine without authorization.

As the torpedo is closing in on the Red October, Ramius asks Ryan what books he wrote. Ryan wrote a book about Admiral Halsey. “I know this book. Your conclusions were all wrong. Halsey acted stupidly.”

The torpedo hits before it has a chance to arm again, but this time, it's not the settings. It's the safety interlocks on the torpedo. Ramius knows that the Alfa captain is reloading and is disabling the safety features on his weapons.

The Control Room erupts into gunfire. After the head count topside, the KGB spy snuck back aboard the sub and armed himself. The Dallas's sonar also picks up the gunfire. Yep. Gunfire is almost as bad as singing.

Only one person in Control was hit. The Red October's XO will never have that RV.

A missile tube access warning goes off. The KGB cook is trying to set off a missile. Ramius tells Mancuso to take the con. “But fire control is shot to hell!” “Then get in behind them and stay there.” This is not easy when your opponent is faster and more maneuverable than you are. Mancuso hands Ramius his pistol. Both of them seem a little surprised by this amount of trust. Mancuso then orders Ryan to go with him.

If the spy makes it to the ignition circuitry, he can incinerate the ship. I would imagine that he would start the rocket motor on a missile with the hatch open and flood the compartment with the missile exhaust. This would fry everything in the missile compartment, but the water tight doors and the hull would probably hold.

Supposedly, the USS George Washington once tried to launch a missile while on the surface. The missile launch went off fine, but they couldn't shut the hatch again. The missile exhaust had warped the hatch. Since the pressure hull and the watertight doors are farther from the missile than the hatch was, they should be fine.

The KGB cook fires again, wounding Ramius. Ryan checks his condition, then leaves him there covering the door, which is the only way in. Ramius warns Ryan to be careful. There are a lot of things in there that don't react well to bullets.

The Alfa commander finally gets all of the torpedo minimum ranges set to 0 and asks for a position on the Red October. She is right behind them. The captain orders right full rudder. Frankly,. I am not impressed. I would have maintained a position on the Red October's stern while I was working on the torpedoes. You have a crew. It's not like you can only do one thing at a time.

As Ryan tries to sneak up on the KGB guy, the Alfa captain gets behind the Red October and fires. The Dallas moves in between the torpedo and the Red October – the torpedo locks onto them instead. The Dallas then heads away from the Red October., does the famous emergency blow, and launches countermeasures. They do everything right in the control room. The Chief of the Watch (not even present in Crimson Tide) hits the Chicken Switches for the Emergency Blow and they take a steep up angle. According to Sean Connery, the sets were built 45' above the floor of the sound stage and had gimbals to make the set take the angles. This isn't them tilting the camera while everybody leans.

A submarine doing an emergency blow is always spectacular. For this one, the USS Houston was doing in excess of 20 knots. They came WAY out of the water. One of my buddies was sitting back in the engine room waving at the cameras when they filmed it. Yeah, you can't see him, but he was having fun.

The crew of the Red October are impressed. “Look! The captain scared them out of the water!”

The torpedo is still active. It is looking for another target.

Ryan finds his target before the torpedo does. He kills the KGB agent and is suprised at how young he is, and that he's just a cook. Really, this guy was in the perfect place for his job. He served the ward room, so he would spend a lot of time around the officers, but he would still be invisible to them. Nobody pays attention to the cooks.

The torpedo locks onto the Red October again. Mancuso heads them straight at the Alfa. “The hard part of playing chicken is knowing when to flinch." At the last moment, he takes a sharp turn and a steep down angle. The torpedo continues and hits the Alfa, sinking it. The crew of the Red October believes that the explosion is their sub.

The captain of the Alfa just told his crew to take out the range safeguards. Our torpedoes also shut down if they turn more than 180º in any direction, to prevent them from coming back and hitting the sub that launched them. Either their torpedoes don't have this interlock, or they disabled it with the other interlocks, or the torpedo would have shut down and they'd be back to square one.

The head of the NSA is talking to the Soviet ambassador again. He tells him that they know the final position of the Red October, but the depth of the water and the widely scattered debris field makes it difficult for anything to be recovered. The crew is being returned to the Soviets, though. The NSA head says that it would have all been easier if they would have got us to help sooner. The Soviet ambassador reluctantly broaches another matter. “One of our submarines, an Alfa, was last reported in the vicinity of the Grand Banks (just north of the Abyss). The NSA head looks incredulous. “You mean you've lost ANOTHER submarine?”

It is night time. The Red October is going up a river in Maine. Ryan and Ramius are on the bridge. They discuss Ramius's reason for doing it. There are people in Moscow who want to end the Cold War once and for all. The Red October was designed to do that. Ramius disagreed.

This is near where Ryan grew up. He points out an island where his grandfather taught him to fish. Ramius tells him that there is an island near Vilnius where HIS grandfather taught HIM to fish. He then quotes Columbus. Ryan says “Welcome to the New World.”

Ryan is now on an airplane, heading home. The poor flier is sound asleep. In the seat next to him is a large teddy bear, which he promised to bring his daughter.

The real life aftermath is a sad note. On the way back from filming off of the Washington coast, the USS Houston was passing between Catalina Island and Los Angeles. As they were coming to periscope depth, they had one sonar contact to one side. When they got to periscope depth, they saw that there were TWO visual contacts, one on each side. And both were closer than the one that they expected. They immediately went deep again, but they heard a scraping sound.

When they came up again, they saw that their radio antennas were damaged. They rigged an emergency whip antenna on the bridge and called in to see what happened.

They had come to periscope depth between a tug and a tow. They caught the tow cable with their radio mast and dragged the tug under as they went deep. Two of the three man crew managed to swim to the barge that they were towing. The third drowned.
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This is your WIW I was waiting for.

As they drink tea and discuss the orders, the PO gets all excited. He asks that he be allowed to post the orders and inform the crew of their mission. Why? Like I said, they are just doing sea trials and weapon certification. That is nothing to get excited about. Of course, Ramius kills him, spills some tea on the ground, and claims that he slipped. And nobody suspects anything? Granted, most of the senior officers are in on the plot, but the doctor (Tim Curry) isn't in on the plot and sees the results of more accidents than most. He does come off as relatively naive, though. The Soviets also didn't go in much for questioning authority.
This is, of course, the film-makers doing a nice moment of moral ambiguity which gets brought up later in the story with Ramius. The political officer is all excited because it's his first day on the job or damned near close to it and he's honored to be doing just about anything for a living Soviet legend. He's just a kid who is too eager to please on an assignment which he was probably sent on because it was prestigious but utterly safe. Either because he's someone's son or he has a bunch of people who really liked him.

Ramius murders him because it's necessary and because, well, he hates communists.

Even innocent ones.

Granted, most of the senior officers are in on the plot, but the doctor (Tim Curry) isn't in on the plot and sees the results of more accidents than most. He does come off as relatively naive, though. The Soviets also didn't go in much for questioning authority.
This being the Clancyverse, it's entirely possible the Doctor thought he was being told to say it was an accident and Ramius getting away with literal murder was a thing to overlook. "Accidents" in the Soviet Union, of course, were not as numerous as fiction would have you believe but not unheard of either. I don't think that's the way it's played, though.

If an extraordinarily important Soviet hero tells you a junior officer died of an accident then you probably should go along with it or keep your mouth shut until you got home.


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Ah, yeah! I saw the thread title, saw it was you and got legit giddy. :D These are just so fun and informative. Excellent as always, Ghoti!


I am invincible?
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I've been looking forward to this, I like this film and you have a great perspective on it.

Wasn't Ryan's family living in the UK at this point? I think they are in Patriot Games, which is next. So Ryan does go straight from London to Langley.
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Game Master
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I've been looking forward to this, I like this film and you have a great perspective on it.

Wasn't Ryan's family living in the UK at this point? I think they are in Patriot Games, which is next. So Ryan does go straight from London to Langley.
Technically Patriot Games is a Prequel (and in the book and the film Ryan is living in New England, which is why Ryan is able to legally have a gun in the house). They move to the UK after Patriot Games.


Pronounced "Fish."
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I've been looking forward to this, I like this film and you have a great perspective on it.

Wasn't Ryan's family living in the UK at this point? I think they are in Patriot Games, which is next. So Ryan does go straight from London to Langley.
I don't think the movie ever said where he was living. It could have been London.

Still, you don't take sensitive material home with you. The more places you go, the more places that you can lose the sensitive information that you are carrying, and the more places where it can be taken from you.

In Nuclear Power School, we had to do all of our studying in the classroom - we weren't allowed to take anything home. And there, you are talking about 40 hours a week of classroom time plus up to 35 hours a week of extra assigned study time. And that was just confidential material. Pictures like this would be at least Secret.
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I don't think the movie ever said where he was living. It could have been London.

Still, you don't take sensitive material home with you. The more places you go, the more places that you can lose the sensitive information that you are carrying, and the more places where it can be taken from you.

In Nuclear Power School, we had to do all of our studying in the classroom - we weren't allowed to take anything home. And there, you are talking about 40 hours a week of classroom time plus up to 35 hours a week of extra assigned study time. And that was just confidential material. Pictures like this would be at least Secret.
In the UK there is a long and storied history of people leaving important briefcases/documents/computers on trains or in cabs or on the underground.
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