Follow TV Tropes


Headscratchers / The Hunt for Red October

Go To

Why is Captain Mancuso of the Dallas so surprised at Ramius turning the sub toward the torpedo to destroy it before it can become armed?
This is an extremely basic and critical safety feature of torpedoes and impacts how battle may be carried out. There's no way he would have been shocked.
  • He's in an uncomfortable situation and is primed to expect betrayal from Ramius rather than cooperation, and he just did not think of it in the heat of the moment. If he was on his own boat, then he might have worked it out quicker than he did. Once he did have a moment to think about it, he worked it out though.
  • Shocked, perhaps not, but justifiably concerned, absolutely. He has no way to know at that point what Soviet Navy SOP is regarding the default settings were for the torpedoes to arm, or even if the safety were enabled at all. Ramius, on the other hand, does know naval SOP regarding weapon settings.

How did Ramius kill Putin?
We see him slam the Putin's head against the table and do something to him slightly off-screen that looks like it could be CPR chest compressions if he wasn't murdering him, then we get a shot of his wide-eyed, stricken (yet still alive) face, which makes it look like he can't breathe. So how did he die? This one has always had me slightly puzzled.
  • I always thought Ramius broke his neck.
    • It was a broken neck - this is made clear in the novel.
  • Specifically: he slams Putin against the edge of the table at the juncture of the spine and skull, and presses down on his chest, making a clean break of the spinal cord between the second and third vertebrae. This cuts the brain stem off from Putin's lungs, so his diaphragm stops working. Although his heart keeps beating for about two minutes, Putin suffocates to death.
Why burn the original orders?
Burnt paper stinks very much, and it's a stench that stays for hours. Surely someone would have been suspicious of Putin's death coinciding with a strong smell of just-burned paper.
  • Yes, but on the other hand the Captain has just killed the political officer. The political officer being the most feared man onboard, and other senior officers are going along with it, so maybe a life-extending move is not to speak up right now. It's like that bit in The Dark Knight where the would-be blackmailer explains his plans to Morgan Freeman and is told good luck in that plan. The plans are disposed with leaving no evidence, and anyone with suspicions will have figured out enough of what is going on to not to act on those suspicions without substantial backup which cannot come while at sea.
  • Know what else stinks on a submarine? Everything. Fresh paint, semi-refrigerated food, diesel fuel, lube oil, cigarette smokenote  (and Putin was smoking immediately prior to his death), amine from the carbon dioxide scrubbers, and unwashed ass. Burnt paper's just a needle in a haystack.

So does Putin exist in the Ryanverse?
Does Vladimir Putin exist in the Ryanverse or did his expy get killed by Ramius?
  • Putin isn't that uncommon a name that only Vladimir Putin has that last name. The guy that died in the story is more than likely someone else entirely.
  • Also bear in mind that THFRO was written in 1983-84, at which time Putin was a minor official in the KGB - Clancy probably didn't even know who he was. However, the answer to the main question is actually No - In the Ryanverse, Boris Yeltsin was succeeded by President Grushavoy.
Why didn't Loginov (the mole) go straight for the missile tubes without drawing attention to himself?
Just as the Americans are accepting the officer's request for asylum, the mole opens fire, sending one of them into retirony before retreating into the missile launch area in an attempt to detonate a missile and destroy the sub. If the mole had not revealed himself by shooting, he would have been able to sneak into the missile room and destroy the sub at leisure, effectively killing everybody on board.
  • The book is more sensible about this; the mole does indeed go straight for the missile room, and only opens fire when someone else walking through the missile room on an errand happens across him while he's busy with his sabotage. Sadly, shooting the man to prevent him from calling for help fails, as Jack Ryan is alert enough to hear the sound of the gunshot.
    • The book also points out better that, while Loginov is a GRU professional, he's also very young and in it for patriotic reasons, implying that a loss of control upon hearing the officers request asylum isn't totally out of the question.
  • In the movie, a warning light alerts the men in the control room when Loginov opens the missile tube hatch. Perhaps he felt it was better to at least use the element of surprise to cause confusion (and possibly take out one of his adversaries first, as he managed to do) rather than risk being taken by surprise himself when someone came forward to investigate why the hatch was open.

What language were the crew of the Red October singing in?
In the film, after Translation Convention kicks in, during any scene in the film in which Russian is spoken amongst only Russian characters, Russian is heard by the audience as English. But when the crew begins singing, the audience still hears that as Russian. So what language are they singing in that, even though we hear Russian as English, we hear the singing as Russian?
  • The sailors are singing the Hymn of the Soviet Union, a very distinctive song for which I'm not aware there is an English version. In dialogue, the translation convention renders characters' words as English, but that would be very difficult to do with the Soviet national anthem and would lesson the impact of the scene.
    • There actually is, in fact, an English version.
      • It's fairly common for Translation Convention to use a different language for spoken dialogue, but still keep songs in the language the characters are supposed to be speaking (for example, Cross of Iron has German soldiers speaking English but singing in German, and The Beast of War has Soviet soldiers speaking English but has a snippet of a Russian-language song playing on a radio).

Why keep both keys?
After killing Putin, Ramius keeps both missile keys, with Tim Curry and the GRU mole as witnesses. This would seem awfully suspicious, especially as he overrules Tim Curry's protests. As he specifically does not want to use the nuclear missiles, he does not have a reason to keep both keys. If someone else wanted to use his key, they would have to take it from him, and if they could do that, they could get the second key too. He could have easily given it to Borodin or Melekhin or any of the other officers. He could have even taken Tim Curry's suggestion, and handed it over, as he never needs to use the key, so it doesn't matter who has the second one, as long as he had one of them.
  • It is specifically mentioned in-dialogue (in the book version, at least) that Soviet naval regulations are that if the political officer dies while under way, the captain keeps both keys. Ramius is only doing what The Book requires him to do in such a situation; why should anyone find this suspicious? It's only in the film that Dr. Petrov's objects. Either this is meant to only prove that Dr. Petrov doesn't know what he's talking about… which is not surprising, as he's a) a doctor, not a line officer and b) a politically-connected incompetent. Or the film just just takes artistic license with the military as it also implies that only two keys are required instead of five in the novel.
    Ramius: Borodin, observe: I take the comrade political officer's missile control key from his neck, as per regulations.
    Borodin: I note this, and will so enter it in the log.
  • Also, Borodin already has a missile control key — his own, as he's one of the five separate officers it takes to approve a missile launch on a Soviet submarine in that era. So either way, someone would have to carry two keys if one of the five officers dies; the logical candidate to do that is, of course, the most senior officer.
  • And in any case, most multi-key safety systems are designed so that one person cannot reach all of the keys at once to turn them, so one person having multiple keys would not represent a breakdown of the system. The keyholes would be on opposite sides of a room and require all keys to be turned at the exact same time

How does the ruse convince the Soviets?
The Soviet ambassador states in his final scene that the Konovalov is missing, and that its final location was exactly where the Red October purportedly sank. Even with the rescued crew misreporting the identity of the torpedoed vessel, the Soviets are still looking for a submarine, and it's shown earlier that they have sufficient ships and sonar buoys in place to intercept one heading for the United States. It's not clear what convinces the Soviets which of their two missing submarines was sunk, or how the Red October gets to Maine unmolested.
  • Plausible deniability. They'll suspect what happened, but they'll never be able to prove it. Not to mention that they'll be looking for an explanation that saves diplomatic face after what was a diplomatic and military disaster. There is nothing to be gained in pursuing the issue after that, so lots of gritted teeth and a general moving onto the next project. That is what the cold war was all about really, win some-lose some.
  • Officially, the Red October sank at that location. That's where the crew was rescued, and if anybody asked them, it was their sub that went down because that was the only sub they were aware of. With the Red October's crew in custody, it would be very difficult for the Soviet Navy to continue searching so close to US waters so they'd be forced to accept the official story and go home. The RO probably sailed the rest of the way to the US right underneath the US fleet. The fate of the Konovalov is the Soviet's problem to solve/explain. The US Navy would have denied knowing about a third sub in the area. The official story would have been "sunk rogue sub" or "reactor accident." Either way the only witnesses and evidence would have pointed to the RO being the one sunk there. Ryan picked that location precisely because there was no way to search for wreckage.
  • In the book this is made far more clear: the planned move was that a specific piece of equipment (a depth gauge, if memory serves) was to be removed and dumped at the site they intend to be the "grave" of the Red October, and to be later found by search vessels. Second was even better, and completely unplanned: after dealing with the GRU mole the specific missile that was being tampered with was ejected (not launched) and let to sink to the floor of the ocean. When the search DSRV goes down they recover the depth gauge just as planned. But then a few moments later they come across the ejected missile. The Russian observer aboard makes a note of the missile's ID numbers, while the DSRV commander (who had been informed they were diving on an Alfa or something) suddenly realizes they're looking at a ballistic missile sub's wreckage instead which was not what he was supposed to be looking at, immediately drops the heavy counterweight keeping them so deep. The Russian observer reports back the missile's ID numbers, and with the serial number off the depth gauge those cross reference to be the Red October. Ruse successful.

Why does Captain Mancuso ask Ryan how the coffee is when he climbs into the mini sub?
My hunch is Ryan unknowingly violated protocol by bringing the cup of coffee into the mini sub. Mancuso doesn't seem prone to flippant remarks and Ryan really stares at Mancuso like he is thinking about what Mancuso said.

Jack was able to hear Ramius speak English. Does that mean the Russians speak English in-universe and just keep their ability to speak English a secret from Americans?
This question is worded confusingly. If you're talking about when Ramius replies "It is." to Jack's question: "It is wise to study the ways of ones adversary. Don't you think?" Jack is speaking Russian and Ramius replies in English. So *Ramius* speaks English, but there's no way of knowing which other Russians do.
  • If we assume the rest of them speak Russian, that brings in another headscratcher: Why do the other Russians understand him?

What year does this book take place in?
As noted on the main wiki, the chapters' dates are consistent with 1982 and 1993. (December 3rd was a Friday in 1982, because of leap years it would only again be a Friday in 1993.) This book can't take place in 1982 since one of the movies the Dallas has on tape is Return of the Jedi, which came out in 1983. And I don't think this book is supposed to take place in 1993...
  • It's actually relatively common for naval ships to be deployed with special pre-release copies of upcoming movies. The navy has a department dedicated to this sort of thing (established in 1919). Return of the Jedi was released in May of 1983, the book took place the previous December, so it's still a bit early for them to have it, but not glaringly so.