The Hunt for Red October

Cross-Curricular Lesson

Last Updated: September 2020

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Grade Level: 9th – 12th grade


Length of Lesson: 1 – 2 days



  • Analyze the literature using their background knowledge (i.e. Plot, Characterization, and Setting).
  • Tie in some of the elements of fiction with nonfiction.
  • Present a cooperative report on submarine disasters and ocean settings that help or hinder submarines.
  • Identify and apply some of the vocabulary used in Science concerning the SeaPerch project (i.e. Sonar, thermal climes, pressure, temperature and depth).


Common Core Academic Standards:

  • Reading: Informational Text
  • Reading Literature
  • Speaking and Listening
    • Comprehension and Collaboration
    • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
  • Science & Technical Subjects
    • Key Ideas and Details
    • Craft and Structure
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity



  • Text of The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
  • The Hunt for Red October movie (1990)



The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy, documents the fictional story of a soviet submarine captain, Marko Ramios, who intends to defect to America with his crew of the submarine Red October. During the climax of the book, an underwater submarine battle occurs between the Soviets, the Americans, and Red October. Through reading selected passages of the text, and watching part or all of the movie dramatization, the students see a fictional, but well-researched, account of submarine disasters. They can then use this knowledge to research actual submarine disasters, their causes and outcomes, and possible ocean settings that may have contributed. While the book and film are fictional, the events are inspired by two true accounts: Valery Sablin’s failed mutiny on board the Storozhevoy in 1975, and the sinking of the diesel-electric powered submarine K-129 in 1960. Students can research these two incidents and compare and contrast non-fiction and fictional accounts of submarine disasters.

Lesson: LAUNCH
  1. Read chapters 1 and 2 of The Hunt for Red October.
  2. Have students identify the exposition of the novel.
  3. Choose selected excerpts from the book and have the students identify characterization and setting.
  4. Watch the movie dramatization. Choose sections to view, or watch the entire film, depending on the time you have available.
  1. Have students research submarine disasters. You may want to divide them into teams and assign each team a certain disaster.
  2. Students should investigate the causes or potential causes of these disasters. Were they due to mechanical failure, to ocean settings, or some combination of the two?
  3. Students should brainstorm ideas to help avert submarine disasters in the future.
  1. Students should pull their research together into a cohesive report.
  2. If desired, have students present their reports to the class.
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