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.
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).
31 October 2020 at 21:32
It started my several-decades love of the Clancy tomes.
1 November 2020 at 05:37
I had read many of the Clancy books before reading ‘Search For Red October’ and as soon as the movie hit a screen
where I could watch it, my family and I saw it. Since then, whenever it pops up on TV I watch it again. I’d been a 007
fan for several years when Red October hit the movie houses; and another of Connery’s movies – with Harrison Ford –
is another favorite. RIP Sir Sean Connery! You’ll be missed.
1 November 2020 at 21:09
RIP Sean Connery, and RIP (for some years now) Tom Clancy. I’ve never read the book The Hunt for Red October, although I have a Tom Clancy signed copy I was given years ago by the U.S. Naval Institute. Clancy’s Hunt for Red October came out at about the time I decided to “get the hell out of the car business and write a book” of my own. I’m still working on that first book thirty-seven years later! I’ve seen 3 or 4 movies based on Clancy’s books. I’ve liked each of his movies that I’ve seen. The Hunt for Red October is a marvelous movie. So, too, The Rock. My own time in the United States Navy was cut short because of “wool hypersensitivity” which means that I was allergic to wool in 1970-1971 while in the Navy, I’m still allergic to it today. Indeed, I’ve been allergic to wool all my life. I’ve had my own problems with duodenal ulcers that go back to the 4th or 5th grade. As I recall, however, these ulcers didn’t give me a problem while I was in the Navy. On the other hand, the problems I’ve had with ulcers writing about the Navy, or more specifically about Pearl Harbor and U.S. entry into WWII, have been an entirely different matter.
Sean Connery was a marvelous actor. I’ve probably enjoyed everyone of his movies I’ve seen. Years ago I had a large VHS collection. Later I switched over to DVDs. I’d estimate I’ve watched The Hunt for Red October at least half a dozen times since it first went on VHS tape.
Sean Connery will continue living on through his movies. Tom Clancy will continue living on through his books. My late wife read every one of Clancy’s books. Someday I’ll read The Hunt for Red October. That said, loving history the way I do, I’ve never been one for reading novels. This is not to imply I haven’t found joy in watching many movies based on novels. Thank you Sean Connery!