Crimson Tide-The Real Story Behind The Movie

Hunter(Washington) with Ramsey(Hackman) aboard the USS Alabama
Hunter(Washington) with Ramsey(Hackman) aboard the USS Alabama

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The Movie Story

As a result of secessionist rebellion in Chechnya, the Russian President ordered bombing strikes against targets in Chechnya leading to massive and horrific loss of human lives. In protest against the slaughter the United States, United Kingdom and French Governments cuts-off foreign aid to Russia.

Incensed, ultra-nationalist opposition leader Vladimir Radchenko denounces the external pressures, accuses the Russian President of being a western puppet and starts a revolt in which elements of the Russian Army joined in. Forces loyal to Radchenko occupies an ICBM silo and threatens to launch nuclear attacks against continental United States if they are attacked by the regular Russian Army.

Aboard the Nuclear attack submarine, the U.S.S Alabama, the Commander Captain Ramsey (Gene Hackman) receives an urgent order to proceed to the coast of Russia in preparation for a possible pre-emptive nuclear strike against the nuclear silo should Radchenko attempt to fuel the missiles (which is a sign that they are about to be launched).

Eventually, the U.S.S Alabama receives an order to launch ten Trident nuclear missiles based on satellite information that the missiles were being fueled by Radchenko's forces. Before the Alabama could launch, a second message starts to come through but is interrupted when the Alabama is attacked by a Russian submarine friendly to Radchenko forcing the Alabama to go deeper under the sea.

Denzel Washington as Lt Hunter in the Movie.
Denzel Washington as Lt Hunter in the Movie.

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Stand Off

Too deep for communication, with a standing order to launch nuclear weapons, and a hostile Russian submarine on their tail the captain of the U.S.S Alabama decides to proceed on the launch but his Executive Officer Lt Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington) disagrees and tries to convince the captain to confirm the second but incomplete message believing it to be possibly a retraction of the earlier order to launch.

A bitter confrontation ensues during which Lt. Hunter orders the arrest of his boss, the captain, for attempting to exceed his authority and has him locked in the stateroom, and then takes control of the submarine.

After a series of incidents senior officers loyal to the captain helps him to escape and together they retake the boat locking up the Executive Officer and the men who openly supported him. Back in control, captain Ramsey re-initiates the launch process and attempts to continue with the nuclear missile launch despite the fact that communication is still down.

Meanwhile the Executive Officer escapes confinement and attempts to retake the submarine with the help of junior officers on board. During the stand-off both Captain Ramsey and Lt. Ron Hunter agrees to wait and postpone the launch till the very last possible moment while communication is restored. When communication is restored, it is revealed that the second message is actually a refraction of the earlier order to launch because Radchenko and his men in the missile silo had surrendered.

The world had come to within a hairs-breadth of a nuclear war.

Vasiliy Arkhipov
Vasiliy Arkhipov

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Vasily Arkhipov: The Man Who Saved the World?

Although the main story of the movie CRIMSON TIDE is a work of fiction, but it is not entirely so. During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis something very similar to the events in the movie happened deep under the Atlantic Ocean.

Surprisingly it happened on a Russian submarine against a possible American target. That singular moment was one of the closest the world came to an all-out nuclear war.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, on October 27 1962, a group of United States Navy destroyers and an aircraft carrier enforcing the blockade against Cuba trapped a Russian Submarine which was armed with nuclear weapons and began to drop depth charges in order to force the submarine to surface for identification. The captain of the Russian submarine, Valentin Grigorevich, believing that a war may have already started prepared to launch nuclear-tipped torpedoes against the United States warships.

As is procedurally required all the senior officers on board must agree before a nuclear bomb could be launched. The Captain and the Political Officer agreed to launch but Vasily Arkhipov, the Second-in-Command disagreed and a heated argument followed during which Arkhipov was able to persuade the captain to surface the ship and await orders from Moscow. It turned out that there was no war.

Arkhipov was not reprimanded by the Russian Navy for his actions, in fact, he was later promoted to Rear Admiral and went on to become the head of the Kirov Naval Academy and retired as a Vice Admiral. He died in 1999.

A nuclear holocaust on an unimaginable scale was averted and countless lives were possibly saved thanks to Vasily Arkhipov.


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Comments 2 comments

Everybody 9 months ago

Thank you Vasily!


vvv 3 years ago

Thank you Vasily :)

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