At the time the movie takes place (1984), only three Typhoon-class subs besides the fictional 'Red October' were in service. The Dallas computer states that there are six. The other four would all be commissioned on or after December 27, 1983.
As Ryan is packing at the beginning of the movie, he is shown closing a clamshell-style laptop displaying rotating Typhoon images. There were no laptops available in 1984 with this type of high resolution back-lit LCD display.
The stamps used on the some letters received by Padorin were issued in 1987. To be precise on November 3rd for the 100th birthday of Samuil Marshak, 8th for the 150th birthday of Ilja Tschawtschawadse and 25th for the 100th birthday of Wadim Podbelskij.
The Range Rover that drops Jack Ryan at the Airport is seen to have a UK "C" registration plate - this translates to a car registered between August 1985 and July 1986, at least a year after the time frame of the film.
When Admiral Painter is looking out onto the flight deck and says "This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it", his head and jaw movements are not consistent with the words.
When Ramius asks Ryan (in Russian) "You speak Russian?", the Russian line that Sean Connery actually says is "Govaryu po russki?" This means, "I speak Russian?", and is also grammatically incorrect as a question. The correct line should have been like "Vy govarite po russki?"
When Captain Ramius first addresses the crew, he asks Kamarov, the navigator, if there were any sonar contacts. Monitoring the sonar is not the responsibility of the navigator. Also, throughout the movie the Dive Officer and the Sonar Officer seem to be switching places.
When seamen Jones first hears the Red October he says ..."We hit a boomer coming out of the barn" and then says "probably a missile boat out of Polijarny." In U.S. submarine slang 'boomer' means a missile boat and 'the barn' was slang for the Polijarny inlet in Russia. Seaman Jones repeated himself, obviously for the understanding of the audience but not something that would be done on a U.S. missile sub.
When Admiral Greer asks Ryan when's the last time he slept, Ryan says he has no idea because his watch is still on London time. If his watch is still on the same time as the place he last slept, he should know exactly how long it's been.
When informing Jack Ryan about the caterpillar drive, Skip Tyler comments that when he was a kid he helped his father build a bomb shelter due to the Cuban Missile Crisis. However, The Hunt For Red October is set a mere 22 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Assuming that Skip is the same age as the actor who plays him he would have been in his twenties at the time of the crisis. Hardly a "kid" even if he came home and helped his father build the shelter.
The photos of the Red October in dry dock, obtained by British intelligence, shows round doors (or rather oval, due to the shape of the hull) on the bow and stern of the submarine, but "underwater" shots of the caterpillar drive exhaust ports show them to be semi-rectangular.
When Ryan is in the helicopter approaching USS Dallas the dialogue refers to the bad weather conditions making the transfer dangerous. Shots from the helicopter, however, show a completely flat sea - about as calm as it gets.
The crewman on the Enterprise aircraft carrier who talks to the damaged aircraft on its approach, and eventual crash is the same crewman who appears on the Reuben James frigate when the torpedo is launched from the helicopter. It is unlikely that an air traffic controller on one ship would also be a weapons specialist on another.
Just after the Red October's caterpillar drive is engaged, as the crewmen are singing, Ramius orders a turn to 250 degrees, right full rudder. However, shown on the navigator's chart when he draws the new course, the boat is making a left turn from 310 degrees (much sharper than a 60 degree turn as well), and the subsequent exterior shot shows a left full rudder application.
When Ramius gets the mission orders the instructions are to return to base by the 16th of this month. When Ryan is briefing the generals it is the 23rd of the month (the anniversary of Ramius's wife's death).
After Ramius is shot he's holding his wound with his left hand. The camera then switches angles and he is holding his wound with his right hand. It then switches angles again and he's holding it with his left hand again.
When the Russian turbo prop drops its torpedo during Red October's range run, the ocean surface varies from being glassy flat to rough between the opening of the bay doors and wide shots of the torpedo falling.
Two torpedoes are dropped from American aircraft at different times in the vicinity of the Red October. The same footage is used for each different torpedo. As they enter the water, the splash is identical for each.
When the cook's assistant leaves the bridge, the Russian crewman says that he has doubled forward and is tampering with missile number 20 on the port side. But when Ryan looks into the missile bay (from the only entrance at the rear), the even-numbered missiles are starboard.
When Ramius orders a delay in turning the Red October in the underwater canyon during their run in "Red Route One" after the TU-95 Bear Aircraft dropped it's torpedo on it, the diving officer protests that they must turn immediately or they'll hit the wall of the canyon. Ramius orders him to be relieved but you never see another crew member takeover at his post and he, in fact, remains at his post.
When Jack is tracking the saboteur to the ignition circuits, he takes off his jacket and climbs up to a ledge using both hands, neither of which has a gun in it. When he lands on the ledge, he suddenly has a gun in his right hand.
When the F-14/F-9 is on final with an emergency landing Ryan, Admiral Painter and Captain Davenport are in the CDC, Command Direction Center, which on US Aircraft Carriers is located in the "Island" superstructure on the port side.
When the Admiral comes out on deck after the crash he comes up on the flight deck level from below the flight deck and from the starboard side instead of going out on the island and viewing the crash site from an observation deck on the outside of the island.
A torpedo is dropped from the left-hand side of the Seahawk when maintaining the illusion to the Red October crew that the sub is being hunted but when the chopper took off, the weapon was mounted on the right-hand side.
At the Joint Chiefs' briefing, Ryan notes that the date is the 23rd. At about the same time on the Red October, the Political Officer reads aloud orders that direct the sub to return "on or about the 16th of this month," which has already passed by a week.
After the Mystic (the DSRV, small rescue sub) mates to the Red October, we can clearly see a bright blue light reflected in the hull of the Red October, yet, when looking up into the DSRV to see the Dallas crew-members about to disembark, there is no such light anywhere.
There is a scene in which a Russian official mentions the "Barents Sea" and points to the proper place on a map (the Barents sea is north of Finland and Russia). However the closed caption incorrectly reads "Bering Sea." The Bering sea is between Russia and Alaska. None of the ships in the movie are anywhere near the Bering sea.
The crew of the Konovalov is shown to include petty officers and seamen, but a real Alfa class submarine is crewed entirely by officers. (This may not have been known in the West at the time of filming.)
The SH-60 lifting off the Ruben James is shown carrying an orange torpedo. A torpedo's color indicated the torpedo's purpose. An orange torpedo indicates that is an exercise torpedo, and as such, has no explosive warhead. Thus this torpedo could not explode as shown when the admiral pressed the self-destruct button.
After the Red October is called a rogue sub, the question is asked when it will be able to fire its missiles on the U.S. (we're told in three days when it's off the coast of the U.S.). Given that Typhoon class SSBNs carry the R-39 Rif-M intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of over 8000 kilometers, the answer given is off by a factor of 10 (Typhoons could launch from dock in the former USSR).
Admiral Painter tells Jack that if he needs him or Captain Davenport, they'll be in the CIC (Combat Information Center). However, on aircraft carriers this area is called the CDC (Combat Direction Center).
One well-known scene from the book involves a gun battle inside the submarine in the missile room where two characters take potshots at each other peeking from behind ballistic missile tubes. Typhoon class submarines are not designed this way; the missile silos are between the two pressure hulls and are inaccessible to personnel. It is, however, the way US Polaris class SSBN is designed, and Clancy likely assumed at the time (1984) that the Russian submarine was designed in the same manner. (This being still a time of the Soviet Union's existence, there was no way for him to have obtained the information.)
During the scene where Ryan is taking a shower when he is aboard the aircraft carrier, he has the shower running at full power while he ponders how to get men off the soviet submarine. Anyone who has been in the navy at sea knows that fresh water is at a premium and ships often impose water hours regulating the time and amount of water that can be used. Sailors are taught to "wet down, soap down and rinse down." As graduate of the Naval Academy, Ryan would have known this and not have wasted water in such a fashion.
When the submarine is leaving the harbor Ramius is shown wearing parade uniform. While being very good-looking it is also inconvenient inside a sub and cold. On a mission, Soviet and Russian submariners wore a different kind of uniform consisting of a thick black jacket and a hat.
Sonarman Jones is identified in the film's credits as "Seaman Jones". Jones's insignia
indicates he is a second-class petty officer (E-5). As such, he should be addressed and identified as "Petty Officer" Jones. Sailors who rank below third-class petty officer (E-4) are addressed as "Seaman". These include seaman recruit (E-1), seaman apprentice (E-2), and seaman (E-3). Petty officers include third-class petty officer, second-class petty officer, and first-class petty officer (E-6).
The admiral says that it will be dawn in a couple of hours, but the portholes in his stateroom are not covered. Darkened ship procedures mandate that all portholes be closed between sunset and sunrise. Additional rules apply for doors with outside access.
During scenes on the American and Soviet ships, the crews read out distances in yards and meters respectively, which is correct. When Captain Mancuso takes command of the Red October to evade the Alfa's torpedoes, the American and Russian crews call off distances in yards, not meters. The Soviet crew certainly would not have done that and the Red October's instruments would have not been calibrated to give distances in yards in any case.
When the Dallas firsts tracks the Red October and the R.O. goes silent, both boats are visible in the underwater shot. But Jonesy tells the captain they are 4000 yards behind the Red October, making it impossible for both boats to be seen in the same shot.
Just after the Red October passes Thor's Twins, Captain 'Marko Ramius' orders a speed increase to twenty-six knots, but his order is not acknowledged. The next mention of the Red October's speed comes after the first turn when 'Vasili Borodin' says "Course now one nine five and maintaining speed twenty-six knots." In an actual submarine, in any navy, the crew must instantly and loudly acknowledge any order given by the captain. This is seen moments later as the Red October evades the first torpedo. Ramius issues the "Increase to flank" order, which three crewmen acknowledge with "Full ahead flank."
When Capt Tupolov receives orders to hunt down Ramius, he orders his submarine V. K. Konovalov to a depth of 900m. Alfa Class submarines have a normal operating depth of 360m and a test depth of 800m. While speculation about an actual crush depth of 1300m exists, it would be highly unlikely for the submarine to operate at this depth, especially considering that he increases reactor output to 105%. This would make the submarines speed around 46+ knots and noisy, negating the need to operate such a depth for stealth.
The "caterpillar" drive is described as being silent or near silent, so stopping the propellers and engaging it would have the same effect as simply stopping the propellers. This should have indicated to the Dallas crew that the Red October had stopped and not vanished as if the drive emitted a cloud of silence.
One of medals Captain Ramius wears on his uniform is the "Trans-Arctic Service Medal", issued to Soviet crews in the Arctic Fleet during World War II. Furthermore, Ramius wears a Labor Service decoration for Farming. It is highly unlikely that Ramius would have been awarded either of these decorations given his background and age.
FFG 51 (USS Gary) homeported in Yokosuka, identifies herself as "Reuben James" (FFG 57), which is homeported in Pearl Harbor. Further, Reuben James was not commissioned until two years after the incident took place. (This is because both ships were used in filming.)
While the damaged F-14 attempts to land back on the carrier, you can hear in the background that the pilot "calls the ball" twice (by saying "Yankee 1, Tomcat ball, 6.0", notifying the carrier that he has the optical landing system in sight). Normally, this is done only once, when the aircraft is about 3/4 miles away from the carrier.
Ramius's parade uniform includes a scarf, which is twice a goof. Firstly, it's silk, while it should be satin - silk scarves electrified from rubbing against the brass insignia. And secondly, it's tied in some incredibly pompous knot, while it should be just the crossed scarf tails right below the tie knot under the great-coat. The great-coat itself is also a goof - it's slightly darker black than it should be.
During the NSA briefing, Ryan states that it will take Red October four days to get within missile firing range. In fact, its RSM-52 SLBMs had a range of 8,250 km, meaning they could basically be fired while the sub was still 'moored at its pier' in Poliyaniji, although that fact might not have been publicly known in the west at the time of filming (and any missile sub commander would prefer getting closer to his potential target.)
During the second Crazy Ivan scene, Capt. Mancuso calls for full safeties on his torpedoes due to the range. However, when the range is given once Red October is moving again, it is 300 yards. This would mean Red October would have had to have been closer than that originally because at that time Red October was moving and the Dallas wasn't. Full safeties would mean the torpedo would circle way too long allowing ample time for Red October to use countermeasures and defeat the torpedo. Also, with the range that close and the course of the Red October stated, there is no way the bearing (195) would stay constant, Jones would have reported it as variable, passing through whatever bearing at the time.
The Soviet submarine is shown to have a towed sonar array pod on the tail fin. This apparently is the result of the confusion between the NATO and Soviet classifications. The Typhoon class submarines ("Akula" class in the USSR) didn't have it, while the Schuka-B class, which was called "Akula" in the NATO classification, did. But it looked differently anyway.
The first attack against the Red October came by the Russian "low-altitude multi-prop" (Bear) aircraft by dropping a Russian APR-3E torpedo. In reality, this torpedo, once it enters the water, does not fire up its propulsion system until after it has homed in on and acquired its target, thus giving the Red October very little or no time to react. Therefore, it would have been unrealistic for the Red October to have the nearly four minutes it did to try to outrun it in the underwater canyons.
The captain's name is Marko Ramius which suggests he is from one of the Baltic republics, Estonia, Lithuania or Latvia. A person with such name wouldn't be allowed on-board a Soviet submarine let alone command it - "Balts" were considered unreliable and disloyal by the Soviet leadership.
When the second torpedo is fired at the Red October by the Russian Alpha sub, Capt. Ramius (Sean Connery) orders the Red October to change course to heading 315. Several characters are astonished by this order. They indicate that this will turn Red October into the oncoming torpedo. This is often regarded incorrect, as it is understood that the torpedo is traveling on the same course as the new heading (i.e. 315). However, the sonar officer did report the torpedo as being on _bearing_ 315, not course, which indicates that Captain's choice of course, is, in fact correct, as to reach an item on bearing 315 you need to take a course of 315 (by the definition).
As the torpedo is making (roughly) a beeline to the target sub, it can be easily calculated that it is traveling on course of 135 (i.e. the opposite of 315), and both the sub and the torpedo are going to be on a collision course.
A Soviet crewman is shown doing a Roman Catholic rather than a Russian Orthodox cross. This is entirely possible: some parts of the USSR, such as Ramius' home republic of Lithuania, were heavily Roman Catholic.
In the situation room briefing there are pictures that are show Captain Ramius standing with high ranking Russian officials at a celebration. When shown close up to it you see the text Typhoon Class (referring to the submarine) in English. It would initially appear strange that a Soviet naval officer would hold plans with English writing on them, but an earlier shot shows that the pictures displayed in the briefing were projected using cameras (over Ryan's right shoulder). It is therefore likely that the Typhoon-class plans are, in fact, American, but are sitting over top of the other pictures being projected by the camera.
While loudly singing the national anthem in "Silence" mode may be a violation of procedure, it is clear within the context of the movie that this was a spontaneous outburst of patriotic sentiment following the revelation of their (ostensible) orders. Borodin plainly points out that the singing is a serious issue; Captain Ramius' response confirms that while it is unorthodox, he nevertheless explicitly permits the singing to continue. Captain Ramius even joins in himself.
While the "brother" for Stanley the teddy bear gets more screen time, Stanley is seen briefly before Ryan leaves home. Therefore, it's correct for Stanley to be credited as himself, but the second bear is uncredited.
On the Penobscot River, while Ryan and Ramius are talking on the bridge of the Red October, just before Ryan states, "Welcome to the new world, sir," the tree line behind him can be seen through his hair, revealing that the scene was shot on a bluescreen. Also, the background seems to move along with the camera, not changing when the camera zooms in on Ryan and Ramius.
In the opening text the Russian version of text "The Hunt for Red October" is misspelled. There is a Latin "i" in the word "Oktyabr", replacing the Cyrillic I (similar than inverted letter N in Latin alphabet).
In Russian, there is no "i" in "Oktyabr'" - the vowel "ya" looks like th an uppercase "R", flipped along the vertical axis. Also, the word "Oktyabr" is missing the soft sign (a character roughly like a lowercase "b" in appearance indicating the previous consonant is to be made forward in the mouth) on the end after the "r".
When the Red October puts to sea, and the crew members are singing the Russian National Anthem, it's clear that Sean Connery hasn't learned the song. He fakes it very well, but if you look closely, you can see he doesn't know it.
When the DSRV is leaving the Dallas, the mini-sub pilot gives the order to "flood the skirt" to which the copilot replies that there is a soft seal, meaning the DSRV can easily detach from the Dallas since the pressure in the docking collar has been equalized with the surrounding water pressure. Yet when they get to the Red October, the copilot says they have a soft seal and can now open the hatch. This would mean that there would still be water between the two vessels' hulls and the mini-sub would risk flooding the compartment if the hatch were open without a hard seal.
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs
When the caterpillar drive is first sabotaged it is remarked that whoever did it "knew how to cripple a caterpillar in a way not easy to find." Some viewers find fault with this because they believe that the cook Loginov (who later attempts to stop the defecting officers) is the saboteur and he could not have the technical skills. In fact, Loginov is a trained GRU agent, as is explained in the book. See the IMDb FAQ for this film, specifically the item "How did Loginov know how to do all the sabotages he did?", for more information.
Capt. Mancuso (skipper of the Dallas) acts surprised after the torpedo fired at them by the Konovalov when it failed to detonate because Captain Ramius closed the distance before it had time to arm, but then acknowledges it after the torpedo impacts the Red October by exclaiming, "I'll be damned." This "combat tactics, Mr. Ryan" was already familiar to Capt. Mancuso, so he had no reason to act ignorant and countermand Captain Ramius' order to steer to course 315 and close the distance between the Red October and the oncoming torpedo.
When Borodin and Capt. Ramius are outside the sub evacuating their crew and Borodin sees the U.S. warship approaching, Borodin interprets the entire message sent by USS Reuben James via Morse code long before it stops signaling.