Q: Is it true that "The Hunt for Red October" was based on a true story?

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Technically, it's based on a couple. Mainly, author Tom Clancy based his book (turned into a hit film in 1990) on the real-life mutiny of Valery Sablin, the political officer aboard the highly-advanced Russian warship Storozhevoy (which translates to English as Sentry) in 1975.

Initial intelligence in the West, based on what little information made it through the Iron Curtain, suggested Sablin intended to defect, like Capt. Marko Ramius (played by Sean Connery) in "The Hunt for Red October." But in fact, he intended instead to sail for Leningrad and launch a revolution against what he considered a corrupt Soviet regime that had strayed from true Communism.

Some have also said that Clancy based other parts of his story -- specifically the covert, cloak-and-dagger style search-and-rescue operation -- on the story of the nuclear-armed Russian submarine K-129, which sank in the Pacific near Hawaii in 1968.

The Russians were reportedly unable to find it, but the Americans did in 1974. The CIA launched Project Azorean, a top-secret operation to retrieve the wrecked sub that rested 3.1 miles down.

That story leaked in the press in 1975, which is likely where Clancy would have seen it. More information surfaced later, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and opening up of official files on both sides of the Cold War. These led to a rather spectacular suggestion by investigative journalist Kenneth Sewell in his book "Red Star Rogue," that the K-129 sank after attempting to launch a nuclear missile at Hawaii. Many experts, however, have disagreed with this theory.

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