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

taschoene

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I just posted part 2.

The rules about having secret stuff at home could be different for actual spies, analysts, etc. We definitely weren't allowed to take anything home.

When I was in San Diego on my first boat, a sonar chief on a different boat was being investigated for taking classified material. His XO told him to bring in anything classified that he had the next morning so that it wouldn't be there when they searched his house the next day. They nailed him the next morning when he was bringing a briefcase full of classified stuff - mainly periscope photos - onto the boat. I don't think that the pictures were of anything really important, but the fact that they had periscope crosshairs on them made them classified. His career was over.

This may sound rather harsh to you, but I got to my first boat just two years after they caught John Walker. They weren't playing around.
Yeah, that definitely sounds right. The rules are the same for the worker bees too. The only exceptions are some senior bosses who can get spaces in their homes designated as temporary secure workspaces. (This came out when one of Clinton's CIA bosses did some decidedly inappropriate things with documents he had brought home with him.)

That said, I've seen some exceptions made.

When I visited Sub Base new London as an NROTC midshipman (just when this movie was coming out), we had the opportunity to tour a sub, and they gave us the "full" version, not just the normal version that stays in the front half of the sub. To do that, we needed to submit a bunch of paperwork so that we could get temporary "interim" clearances. One of my classmates was a former Academy mid who had left Annapolis but somehow managed to get into our program. And he was a huge ass -- no one liked him, including the instructors. Somehow, he managed not to have submitted his necessary paperwork so he wasn't on the tour list. We all hoped that he'd get stuck standing on the pier while we got the tour but they let him tag along anyway.
 

Metaphysician

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Even at the time it was surreal. I was with one of the first units sent over; we were given orders almost immediately. We did not know if the Iraqi army was going to continue into Saudi Arabia, so we drew weapons and ammo. (We got our heavy stuff (tanks, AAVs) later.) We were then bused up to LAX and sent through the airport - again, with full weapons and ammo.

I have never seen the LAPD disappear so quickly. There's the police standing around on airport security duty - and then here comes a company of Marines, armed to the teeth. They just vanished.

We marched, mostly, to the gate. We did horse around a bit, sending M-16s through the x-ray machines until our platoon sergeant told us to knock it off. Then we flew over on a regular Delta airliner with a civilian crew; the USAF was overbooked, so they called in civilian airliners. The flight attendants started joking around as well, with things like "Make sure your rifles and grenades are stowed securely..."

We were escorted down to land by a flight of RAF Tornadoes. When we landed - well, we were pretty sure that the airport was secure, but the USMC way is "better safe than sorry," so we loaded up, piled out fast, and formed a perimeter around the aircraft, just like we'd been trained to do. I'll never forget the flight attendants yelling "ThankyouforflyingDelta! ThankyouforflyingDelta! ThankyouforflyingDelta!" as we ran out.
Okay, let me just say that this story is awesome. Thanks for sharing it.
 

Truthseeker

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Great read as usual, Ghoti. I'm going to have to watch this one again.

You mention a "waterfall" display a couple times. I was curious, so I went and plugged that into YouTube and got this video. Is that it at around 1:30, there?

[video=youtube_share;sMe7TovEneA]https://youtu.be/sMe7TovEneA?t=1m32s[/video]

Funny: The fellow being interviewed takes a shot at the movie under discussion, too. "We're not quite at the Hunt For Red October level yet..."
 

Harlander

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You mention a "waterfall" display a couple times. I was curious, so I went and plugged that into YouTube and got this video. Is that it at around 1:30, there?
More modern installations have slightly more advanced displays. They can even show the signal levels in different colours! (Even though the operators apparently just switch it back to green-on-black mode...)
 

Shadowjack

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Even at the time it was surreal. I was with one of the first units sent over; we were given orders almost immediately. We did not know if the Iraqi army was going to continue into Saudi Arabia, so we drew weapons and ammo. (We got our heavy stuff (tanks, AAVs) later.) We were then bused up to LAX and sent through the airport - again, with full weapons and ammo.

I have never seen the LAPD disappear so quickly. There's the police standing around on airport security duty - and then here comes a company of Marines, armed to the teeth. They just vanished.

We marched, mostly, to the gate. We did horse around a bit, sending M-16s through the x-ray machines until our platoon sergeant told us to knock it off. Then we flew over on a regular Delta airliner with a civilian crew; the USAF was overbooked, so they called in civilian airliners. The flight attendants started joking around as well, with things like "Make sure your rifles and grenades are stowed securely..."

We were escorted down to land by a flight of RAF Tornadoes. When we landed - well, we were pretty sure that the airport was secure, but the USMC way is "better safe than sorry," so we loaded up, piled out fast, and formed a perimeter around the aircraft, just like we'd been trained to do. I'll never forget the flight attendants yelling "ThankyouforflyingDelta! ThankyouforflyingDelta! ThankyouforflyingDelta!" as we ran out.
War: It's weird.
 

Ghoti

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Great read as usual, Ghoti. I'm going to have to watch this one again.

You mention a "waterfall" display a couple times. I was curious, so I went and plugged that into YouTube and got this video. Is that it at around 1:30, there?

Funny: The fellow being interviewed takes a shot at the movie under discussion, too. "We're not quite at the Hunt For Red October level yet..."
Yes, that's the waterfall display. It's a big graph, with the vertical axis being the time and the horizontal axis being the bearing. The full width of the screen is 360º. The bright areas are where sound is present. It could be a ship or a submarine. It could be a storm on the surface, or a noisy fish, or a school of shrimp.

That video reminded me of something. I said before that, when we identify a new sonar contact, we call it Sierra to designate that it is submerged. That's wrong. Sierra is a sonar contact. A radar contact would be Romeo, and a visual contact would be Victor.

Early in that video, it talked about how the subs could get radio messages. The second one that they mentioned was the floating wire - a long, buoyant antenna that we could tow along behind us. We actually only used it at night. Y'see, sea birds are lazy. If they see something floating along on the surface, they'll land on it. If you see a string of seagulls standing still while moving steadily through the water, it looks kinda suspicious...

The guy doing the briefing on Radio in that video mentioned that Radio is the most secure area on the sub. This is absolutely true. The radiomen have some of the top clearances.

On a sub, the officer in charge of Radio is also the sub's Security Manager. Once upon a time, a sub's Security Manager was supposed to have new security clearances done for the crew of his sub. He was far too busy, though, so he delegated it to his Senior Chief, a fine upstanding citizen named John Walker. Yes, the same John Walker who I mentioned earlier. Because the sub's Security Manager was too busy to do his job, a man who was selling intel to the Soviets got to do his own security clearance.
 

Starfall

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This is nitpicking a tangent, but:

I always took that to mean that CIA agents in/near the sub base had reported Red October's sailing. Also, i don't think Jack ever lived in New England, but I believe he lived in rural Delaware or something in Patriot Games, where he had a house on Chesapeake Bay.
In Patriot Games, the Ryans lived in Maryland. In Calvert County I think, or maybe southern Anne Arundel County (both of which lie on the Chesapeake Bay). Ryan was teaching at the Naval Academy at the time, and Cathy Ryan was a surgeon at, possibly, University of Maryland Shock Trauma. (In any event, there were scenes that took place at Shock Trauma--down the street from the grave of Edgar Allen Poe, which also gets a mention--and also on Maryland Route 2, IIRC, which runs from southern Maryland up to Annapolis.) I know all this useless detail because that's basically where I've lived for most of my life, and Patriot Games was the first book that I remember reading that was set in areas I really actually knew. Also, Tom Clancy lived, or at least had a house, down in Calvert County somewhere, so he was pretty familiar with the area himself.
 
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Truthseeker

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Early in that video, it talked about how the subs could get radio messages. The second one that they mentioned was the floating wire - a long, buoyant antenna that we could tow along behind us. We actually only used it at night. Y'see, sea birds are lazy. If they see something floating along on the surface, they'll land on it. If you see a string of seagulls standing still while moving steadily through the water, it looks kinda suspicious...
That's hilarious. Our reality sees a Very Serious Nuclear Submarine and sprinkles a touch of absurdity atop it.

I can sort of see why the waterfall display wouldn't be sexy enough for a film director, but I really find that a lot more interesting than the pseudo-radar stuff we usually get from the movies.

Reading about the John Walker case now... I really don't have words for that. It's a little before my time for following the news and a little too contemporary for my history reading, so it fell into a personal blind spot. I can see in my inventory that I've sold books about the man without developing an interest... I'll be correcting that next time one of them passes through. Cripes.
 

Solarn

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I think some of the questionable elements (the magic Sonar computer, the ability to deliver a DSRV anywhere in the world in 24 hours, the caterpillar drive, some of the protocol errors, etc.) should just be taken as genre conventions, same as you wouldn't question the viability of FTL travel in a sci-fi movie. Political/military/spy thrillers simply don't work the same way as the real world (and the best ones acknowledge this). The movie has enough weird, unnecessary inaccuracies anyway that even someone who's never even been close to a submarine like me noticed some of them.
 
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