Although not a U.S. Naval cryptologist, many cryptologists who served during the Cold War can relate to Sean Connery’s character Marko Ramius in the movie “The Hunt for Red October.”

The Plot: During the Cold War, Marko Ramius, a Soviet Navy submarine commander of Lithuanian descent, plans to defect to the United States with his hand-picked officers on board the ballistic missile submarine Red October, a Typhoon-class vessel. It is equipped with a cutting-edge silent propulsion system, known as the caterpillar drive that makes audio detection by passive sonar extremely difficult and enables the submarine to sneak its way into American territorial waters and launch nuclear missiles with little or no warning.

As the ship leaves the shipyard at Polyarny, Ramius kills Ivan Putin, his political officer, to ensure that he will not interfere with the defection. Initially, Ramius was instructed to conduct military exercises with Soviet Alfa-class attack submarine V. K. Konovalov, commanded by his former student Viktor Tupolev, for the purpose of testing the effectiveness of the caterpillar drive. Instead, he plots on a new course for the North American coast, falsely informing the crew that they will be proceeding all the way to Cuba undetected. Before sailing, Ramius had sent a letter to Admiral Yuri Padorin, the uncle of his deceased wife, Natalia, brazenly stating his intention to defect; the Soviet Northern Fleet therefore sails out to sink Red October under the pretext of a search and rescue mission.

The letter to Admiral Yuri Padorin

In 1946, at the age of 16, Connery joined the Royal Navy, during which time he acquired two tattoos, of which his official website says “unlike many tattoos, his were not frivolous—his tattoos reflect two of his lifelong commitments: his family and Scotland. … One tattoo is a tribute to his parents and reads ‘Mum and Dad,’ and the other is self-explanatory, ‘Scotland Forever.'” He trained in Portsmouth at the naval gunnery school and in an anti-aircraft crew. He was later assigned as an Able Seaman on HMS Formidable.  Connery was later discharged from the navy age 19 on medical grounds because of a duodenal ulcer, a condition that affected most of the males in previous generations of his family.

RIP Sir Thomas Sean Connery (Marko Ramius).

August 25, 1930 – October 31, 2020