The Hunt for Red October
|The Hunt for Red October|
|Series||Jack Ryan universe|
|Publisher||Naval Institute Press|
|Publication date||1984 (1st edition)|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||387 p. (hardback edition) & 469 p. (paperback edition)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-87021-285-0 (hardback edition) & ISBN 0-425-12027-9 (paperback edition)|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 19|
|LC Classification||PS3553.L245 H8 1984|
|Followed by||Patriot Games|
The novel was originally published by the U.S. Naval Institute Press—one of the first fictional works it ever published, and still its most successful.
Marko Alexandrovich Ramius, a Lithuanian submarine commander in the Soviet Navy and son of a prominent Soviet politician, intends to defect to the United States with his officers on board the experimental nuclear submarine Red October, a Typhoon-class vessel equipped with a revolutionary stealth propulsion system that makes audio detection by sonar extremely difficult. The result, immediately apparent to Jack Ryan and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is a strategic weapon platform that is capable of sneaking its way into American waters and launching nuclear missiles with little or no warning.
The strategic value of Red October was not lost upon Ramius, but other factors have spurred his decision to defect. His wife, Natalia, died at the hands of an incompetent doctor who went unpunished because he was the son of a Politburo member. Her untimely death, combined with Ramius' long-standing dissatisfaction with the callousness of Soviet rule and his fear of Red October's destabilizing effect on world affairs, exhausts his tolerance for the failings of the Soviet system.
As the ship leaves the shipyard at Polyarny, Ramius kills his political officer to ensure that he will not interfere with the defection, and writes a letter to Admiral Yuri Padorin, Natalia's uncle, brazenly stating his intention to defect. The Soviet Northern Fleet sails out to sink Red October under the pretext of a search and rescue mission. Meanwhile, Ryan, a high-level CIA analyst, flies from London to Langley, Virginia, to deliver MI6's photographs of Red October to the Deputy Director of Intelligence. Ryan consults a friend at the U.S. Naval Academy, ex-submariner Skip Tyler, and finds out that Red October's new construction variations house its stealth drive.
When the stealth drive is engaged, Red October disappears off the sonar of the USS Dallas, a Los Angeles class submarine under the command of Captain Bart Mancuso, which was tracking Red October as it set out to sea. Putting this information together with the subsequent launch of the entire Northern Fleet, Ryan deduces Ramius' plans. The U.S. military reluctantly agrees, while planning for contingencies in case the Soviet Fleet has intentions other than those stated. As tensions rise between the U.S. and Soviet fleets, the crew of Dallas discover a way to detect Red October. Ryan must contact Ramius to prevent the loss of the submarine and her decisive technology. Through a combination of circumstances, Ryan becomes responsible for shepherding Ramius and his vessel away from the pursuing Soviet fleet, and meets with an old Royal Navy acquaintance, Admiral White, commanding a task force from the aircraft carrier Invincible.
In order to convince the Soviets that Red October has been destroyed, the U.S. Navy rescues her crew after Ramius fakes a reactor meltdown. Ramius and his officers heroically stay behind, claiming they are about to scuttle the submarine to prevent it getting into the hands of the Americans. A decommissioned U.S. ballistic missile submarine, the USS Ethan Allen, is blown up underwater as a deception ploy. A depth gauge taken from the main instrument panel of Red October (with the appropriate serial number) is made to appear as if it was salvaged from the wreckage. Meanwhile, Ryan, Captain Mancuso and some of his crew, and a Russian-speaking British officer from the Invincible board the Red October and meet Ramius face-to-face.
The deception efforts succeed in convincing Soviet observers that Red October has been lost. However, GRU intelligence officer Igor Loginov, masquerading as Red October's cook, is aware of what Ramius is doing and attempts to ignite a missile rocket motor inside a launch tube so as to destroy Red October, killing the ship's navigator and seriously wounding Ramius and the British officer. Ryan attempts to persuade the fiercely patriotic Loginov to surrender rather than die in the explosion, but he refuses. He manages to kill Loginov in the submarine's missile compartment. Ramius orders the missile jettisoned in case Loginov had managed to arm it, an action which adds to the deception of the Soviets.
Captain Viktor Tupolev, a former student of Ramius and commander of the Soviet Alfa-class attack submarine V. K. Konovalov, has been trailing what he initially believes is an Ohio-class vessel. Based on acoustical signature information, Tupolev and his political officer realize that it is Red October, and proceed to pursue and engage it. The two U.S. submarines escorting Red October are unable to fire due to rules of engagement, and Red October is damaged by a torpedo from the Alfa. After a tense standoff, Red October rams Konovalov broadside and sinks it.
The Americans escort Red October safely into the eight-ten dry dock in Norfolk, Virginia, where Ramius and his crew are taken to a CIA safehouse to begin their Americanization. Ryan is commended by his superiors and flies back to his posting in London.
Influence on later Clancy books
The Hunt for Red October was the start of a loosely connected series by Tom Clancy which shared a rough continuity. Many of the characters in the novel, particularly Jack Ryan, went on to be the central characters of many of Clancy's later novels. The ultimate fate of the Red October is explained in the Clancy novel The Cardinal of the Kremlin, where it is revealed that the vessel was reverse engineered and stripped of all technology. The Red October was then sunk in a deep ocean trench off Puerto Rico to avoid discovery. Both Ryan and Ramius are on hand to see the submarine off for the last time, and Ramius sentimentally comments, "He was a good ship."
The novel was made into a commercially-successful movie in 1990, starring:
- Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan
- Sean Connery as Marko Ramius
- James Earl Jones as Adm. James Greer
- Scott Glenn as Cdr. Bart Mancuso
- Sam Neill as Captain 2nd Rank Vasily Borodin
- Jeffery Jones as Skip Tyler
- Fred Thompson as Rear Adm. Joshua Painter
There were several differences between the novel and the film, including the Red October traveling up the Chesapeake Bay and near Tom Clancy's Calvert County waterfront home, and the prominence of the Royal Navy, including light aircraft carrier Invincible. The order of many events also has been changed. In the film version, the "Caterpillar Drive" is described as a magnetohydrodynamic system, essentially, "a jet engine for the water".
The novel also served as the basis for several computer and video games, as well as some board games.
The Hunt for Red October sold very well and launched Clancy's successful career as a novelist. President Ronald Reagan helped to fuel the success of The Hunt for Red October when he announced that he enjoyed the book at a televised press conference, calling it "unputdown-able" and a "perfect yarn."
The hardback edition of The Hunt for Red October is the first novel published by the Naval Institute Press. Clancy had not been able to place the novel with any traditional publishers, but had a good relationship with the press from writing articles in their Proceedings of the Naval Institute. To his surprise the press accepted the manuscript and sent a small advance. After the book received unexpected praise from President Reagan, the book became a bestseller. Clancy's later books were published by Penguin Putnam.
In 1988 it was published in French as Octobre Rouge, translated by Marianne Véron, with the collaboration of Jean Sabbagh.
- Jonas Pleškys
- Valery Sablin
- Crazy Ivan
- Red October (submarine)
- Soviet frigate Storozhevoy
- United States Naval Institute v. Charter Communications, Inc.
- Mansionbooks.com, photos of the first edition of The Hunt for Red October