Nuclear Energy and The Hunt For Red October

The Hunt for Red October Poster 1990

1990, Paramount Pictures

The James Bond tribute at the Oscars got me thinking again about the different ways energy has appeared in Bond films (see my earlier posts here, here, and here), and subsequently, the archetypal Bond Sean Connery. One non-Bond Sean Connery movie stood out: The Hunt for Red October (1990), which features a nuclear submarine.

As you may know, U.S. and Russian aircraft carriers and submarines are powered by nuclear energy. There are a few reasons for this fuel choice.

First, the energy density of nuclear power is remarkable, which means the subs and carriers require less space to carry their fuels.  The associated space savings provide a tactical advantage compared with diesel-powered systems.

Second, the on-board nuclear reactors provide electricity, which can be used for a whole variety of loads, including propulsion, climate control, weapons, etc.

The downside of nuclear energy is that mistakes can be costly.  SPOILER ALERT: Connery’s character plays into this fear during the movie by using the risk of a radiation leak to manipulate his men into abandoning their ship.  A clever energy twist that makes the plot complete…who knew that nuclear radiation could be so helpful? :)

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