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This article is about a novel.
This is a common title. For other uses see, The Hunt for Red October (Disambig).

The Hunt for Red October is a novel written by Tom Clancy. The story follows the intertwined adventures of Soviet submarine captain Marko Aleksandrovich Ramius and CIA analyst John (Jack) Patrick Ryan.

The novel was originally published by the U.S. Naval Institute Press—the first fictional work they ever published and still their most successful.


Marko Alexandrovich Ramius, a Lithuanian who has risen to high levels of trust in the Soviet Navy, intends to defect to officers and the experimental nuclear submarine Red October, a Typhoon-class submarine equipped with a revolutionary stealth propulsion system. The propulsion system is described in the novel as an arrangement of pumpjets -- whereas in the film version, it is described as a magnetohydrodynamic system. The propulsion system is nicknamed "Caterpillar Drive", and makes sonar detection extremely difficult. The result, as is immediately apparent to Jack Ryan and the admirals in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is a strategic weapon platform that is capable of sneaking its way into American home waters and launching nuclear missiles with little or no warning.

It is also not lost upon Ramius, whose defection is spurred by several other factors as well. In particular he is deeply affected by the death of his wife, Natalia, due to a doctor's incompetence. Moreover, because the doctor responsible was the son of a Politburo member, the doctor could not be punished. Natalia's untimely death, combined with Ramius' long-standing dissatisfaction with the callousness of the Soviet establishment towards its sailors and also Ramius' fear of the destabilizing effect the Red October will have on world affairs, ultimately exhausts Ramius' tolerance for the failings of the Soviet system.

In the beginning of the novel, Ramius kills Political Officer Ivan Putin to ensure that he will not interfere with the defection. In a letter to Admiral Yuri Padorin, (who was Natalia's uncle, and who Ramius, therefore refers to, affectionately, as Uncle Yuri), Ramius brazenly states that he is going to defect to the United States, and that he is not joking. This has the same purpose and effect as Hernán Cortés' burning of his ships upon arrival in the new world: it destroys the possibility of retreat and leaves no option for his men but to press on and win or die. The entire Soviet Northern Fleet (except for missile submarines, to avoid confusion) is deployed to sink the Red October. The Soviets conduct this operation on the pretext of a search and rescue mission, even though it is within 400 km (about 250 miles) of the American coast, claiming that their reason for sending so many vessels is because some of the missing personnel are close relatives of political VIPs.

Jack Ryan, a former U.S. Marine and naval historian turned CIA analyst, deduces Ramius' plans. The U.S. high command agrees warily, while also planning for contingencies in case the Soviet Fleet has other intentions than those stated. As tensions rise between the U.S. and Soviet fleets, the crew of the USS Dallas, a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, discover the secret to detecting the Red October. Ryan must contact the Red October's rebellious captain to prevent the loss of a decisive technological advantage. Through a combination of circumstances, Ryan becomes responsible for seeing the sub - and Ramius - to safety from the pursuing Soviet fleet. The United States, in order to make the Soviets believe that the Red October has been destroyed, rescues its crew after Ramius declares a fake shipboard emergency; he and the officers heroically stay aboard, carefully making it appear that they are about to scuttle the submarine. Shortly thereafter, a decommissioned U.S. ballistic missile submarine, the USS Ethan Allen, is blown up underwater. A depth gauge taken from the main instrument panel of the Red October, which of course carries the appropriate serial number, is made to appear as if it is part of this wreckage. Although these events do succeed in fooling Soviet observers into thinking that the Red October has been lost, nonetheless a GRU agent who has been masquerading as a ships cook realizes what is actually happening. He attempts to destroy the Red October from within by detonating one of the missiles' scuttling charges, so as to incinerate the ship. During the confrontation with the agent, one of Ramius' top officers is killed, while Ramius and a British officer who boarded the vessel with Ryan are wounded. Ryan attempts to persuade the agent to surrender rather than die in the explosion, but the deeply patriotic man refuses. Moments before the agent would have succeeded in carrying out his task, Ryan barely manages to shoot the agent in the sub's missile compartment.

Meanwhile Captain Viktor Tupolev, who commands a Soviet Alfa-class attack submarine and who is a former student of Ramius, has been trailing what he thinks to be an Ohio-class submarine. He and his political officer suddenly realize that it is the Red October, proceeding to pursue and engage it. The two U.S. submarines escorting the Red October are unable to fire due to rules of engagement, and as a result the Red October is torpedoed, but survives. After a tension-filled standoff, which leads to the Red October sinking Tupolev's submarine by ramming it broadside, the Americans guide Red October safely into the eight-ten dry dock in Norfolk, Virginia.


  • Yuri Padorin
  • Ivan Putin - Political Officer on Red October.
  • Marko Ramius - Captain First Rank in the Soviet Navy and captain of the Red October.
  • Natalia Ramius - Deceased wife of Marko Ramius. Although not alive during the novel, she plays a major role in Ramius' decision to defect.
  • Jack Ryan, Sr. - CIA Analyst
  • Viktor Tupolev - Captain, Soviet Navy. He commands the Soviet Alfa-class attack submarine hunting Red October.
  • Vasily Borodin - First Officer aboard The Red October


  • The ultimate fate of the Red October is explained in the 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.
  • On 02 June 2009, the MMORPG Runescape released a quest titled "The Hunt For Red Raktuber", which is loosely based on this novel.


See Also

External Links


  1. Wikipedia