How accurate is the description of the Naval War in the Atlantic in Tom Clancy's "Red Storm Rising"?

I'm currently reading "Red Storm Rising" by Tom Clancy, and I've wondered how accurate/realistic the book's description of the Naval War in the Atlantic between NATO and the Warsaw Pact is.

The Total NATO Atlantic Fleet during the late 1980s consisted of 21 Aircraft Carriers, 2 Iowa Class Battleships, 239 Cruisers, Destroyers and Frigates, aswell as 67 Nuclear Attack Submarines and 37 Conventional Submarines.

Meanwhile, the Red Banner Northern Fleet was comprised of 1 Aviation Cruiser, 2 Kirov Class Battle Cruisers, 80 Cruisers, Destroyers, Frigates and Corvettes, 132 Attack/ASW Boats, 60 Nuclear Attack Submarines, and 60 Conventional Submarines.

Though there was also the Red Banner Baltic Fleet, consisting of 49 Destroyers, Frigates and Corvettes, 133 Attack/ASW Boats, and 51 Submarines, it is doubtfull wheater it would've been able to successfully cross the Danish Straits.

Overall, NATO roughly enjoyed a 2 to 1 advantage in total naval personal compared to the whole the Warsaw Pact.

Taking the numbers into account, I don't find a Soviet invasion of Iceland particularly realistic. IMHO the Red Navy would've been all but unable to even break through the GUIK Gap into the North Atlantic. And why would they even try? Some isolated sucesses in the harassment of American Convoys would hardly be worth the allmost total annihilation of the Red Banner Northern Fleet. Soviet Naval Doctrine was allmost exclusively defensive, and for a reason.

But what do you think?
 
Well, considering the tactics used the Iceland invasion was a throw of the dice that NATO wasn't prepared for. That being said, if the Iceland Defense Force had been mobilized and deployed I don't think they would have been successful.
 
Agreed re: Iceland.

As for the naval war, it really just depends on the effectiveness of the USN anti-missile doctrine. We really just don't know. I would definitely agree that it's highly likely Western ASW capabilities would have stuffed the Soviet submarine threat.
 

nbcman

Donor
Pretty accurate as the battles were wargamed using Larry Bond’s Harpoon game.
 
Haven't read RSR but I know it inspired World in Conflict, which included the surprise invasion of Washington State through Seattle by Soviet forces disguised in freighters.
 
Well, there is no ASB invasion of the CONUS in RSR :)
I need to nick pick here. "ASB" is overused. ASB literally means magic, sci-fi, deus ex machina, etc. It doesn't mean highly improbable or unlikely.

WIC did have some level of explanation of the Soviet force reaching America, saying the US Navy was spread out dealing with the Soviet advance in Europe, a sneak attack devastating a fleet in the Med, and other "brushfires" as the war spread around the world. Also, naval assets were in place on the eastern seaboard due to an assault on New York and several strikes against naval bases in Little Rock and Norfolk. It's not perfect, and it's still really unlikely and improbable, but there's enough there to make me go "okay, I'll go along with it."

Incidentally, one of the writers of WIC? Larry Bond.
 
If I remember correctly the RED NAVY invasion of Iceland happens while the hostilities breakout by sending bulk of the troops secretly via the extensive Soviet Merchant fleet. Its not that likely NATO could detect such a secretive move before hand.
 
One plot-driven contrivance made by Clancy when it came to Iceland was Icelandic politicians preventing the arrival of planned American reinforcements ahead of the outbreak of hostilities. In real-life, political pressure would've been overwhelming almost immediately, and possibly not even necessary. The intended forces were supposed to be an airlifted brigade (the 187th independent Infantry Brigade), not Marines by sea that wound up getting turned back as in the book, and would've been there before the shooting started, much less two or three days later.

Even a single battalion with some mortars and ATGMs would've likely been enough to repel the Soviet forces as in the book.

In a book full of implausibilities, the Icelandic capture was probably the most such, but really necessary for the plot. Without it, the GIUK line stays intact, and NATO has a serious land-based defense against the Soviet maritime bomber forces. Though it seems possible in retrospect that the Soviets weren't really all that interested in waging a Harpoon-style campaign against NATO trans-Atlantic traffic, either by subs or by air, and that their huge attack-boat fleet was mostly defensive, rather than waiting to be surged like U-boats to hunt the Atlantic lanes.
 
Last edited:
Spent most of the 1980s stationed on an American Atlantic 688 class SSN. The Soviet Navy would have been slaughtered by US and UK SSNs. Until they started using propellers from the Toshiba milling machines their boats were noisy as hell. SSs would not have been very effective going out into the middle of the Atlantic. No idea how the Walker ring would have impacted any of this. US subs operate independently so maybe not too much. The SOSUS line was VERY effective in hearing boats. If a US boat got detected by it the CO got in trouble. P3s were also fairly effective in hunting boats. Boat crews back then were hardened professionals. We had great COs and Officers who knew how to operate and fight the boat. Spent a lot of time conducting “oceanographic research and the ability to stay deployed for long periods of time.” No idea how CBGs would have fared against massed Backfire attacks. I’d hope that they wouldn’t fall for the drone trick used in RSR. Modern SSNs own the ocean. US CBGs always have an SSN attached for ASW. 688 class was specifically designed to escort US CBGs.
 

ShySusan

Gone Fishin'
Do you have a breakdown/source for this number please?
List of Atlantic Fleet carriers in 1980s:
1. Coral Sea (1983‐1990)
2. Forestall (Her entire career was spent in the Atlantic Fleet with the exception of deployments to Vietnam)
3. Saratoga (same as Forestall)
4. Independence (until 1988, though she was in drydock receiving a SLEP from 85-88)
5. Kitty Hawk (1987‐1991 entire time in drydock receiving a SLEP)
6. America (entire career except for deployments to Vietnam)
7. John F Kennedy (entire career but was in drydock for 18 months from 1984-1986)
8. Nimitz (until April, 1986)
9. Eisenhower (all of 1980s, but was in drydock from Sept 88 thru April 89)
10. Carl Vinson (until mid 1983)
11. Theodore Roosevelt (Commissioned October, 1986)
12. Abraham Lincoln (Commissioned November, 89 may be able to push that forward if needed)
13. Clemenceau
14. Foch
15. Invincible
16. Illustrious
17. Ark Royal
18. Giuseppe Garibaldi (from 1985)

Those are the carriers that served in the Atlantic throughout the 1980s. Any other ships would be Amphibious Assault Ships. Though the USN could and likely would transfer additional carriers from the Pacific to the Atlantic if they were needed.
 
Surely there's also


1610238084183.png
 
The Icelandic invasion was really unrealistic.

From what I understand the basic premise of "Battle of the Atlantic 2.0" while the main obsession of NATO naval war planners (basically how do you keep the sea lanes that would have transported the heavy equipment that would ,make up for allied losses and be mated with US (and to a lesser extent) units airlifted in to Europe as well as supplying munitions that would have been absolutely necessary ( Modern conventional warfare by that point went through ordnance like nothing else) to allow NATO to keep fighting. The idea is that the Soviets would concentrate their submarine fleet in the Mid Atlantic to attack the NATO convoys. That's what happened in the book and what NATO warplanners expected at the time.

But from what I understand the real soviet plans of the period tended to revolve around attacking those convoys in the Eastern Atlantic when they were a lot closer to the ports that they would be unloaded in.
 
And why would they even try? Some isolated sucesses in the harassment of American Convoys would hardly be worth the allmost total annihilation of the Red Banner Northern Fleet. Soviet Naval Doctrine was allmost exclusively defensive, and for a reason.
👍
 
The real POD for Red Storm Rising is like a decade before the book. That covers all the oddities: Soviets get advanced sub tech early, Iceland has greater resistance to USA because of some American disaster, West Germany is primed to believe the Soviet story, East Germany has extra clout, etc…

AFAIK the best public sources for planning in the event of a non-nuclear Warsaw Pact invasion are the Newport studies

1979-1983 PDF
1984-1989 PDF
 
The real POD for Red Storm Rising is like a decade before the book. That covers all the oddities: Soviets get advanced sub tech early, Iceland has greater resistance to USA because of some American disaster, West Germany is primed to believe the Soviet story, East Germany has extra clout, etc…

AFAIK the best public sources for planning in the event of a non-nuclear Warsaw Pact invasion are the Newport studies

1979-1983 PDF
1984-1989 PDF
Based it appears, on a very doctrinaire idea of how the fUSSR leadership thought. The fUSSR was actually a very defensive nation. Whenever faced with the possibility that it might be eliminated (1963, 1984) it retreated. Washington doesn't appear to accept that. I wonder why? The Kremlin invariably blinked, first.
 
Based it appears, on a very doctrinaire idea of how the fUSSR leadership thought. The fUSSR was actually a very defensive nation. Whenever faced with the possibility that it might be eliminated (1963, 1984) it retreated. Washington doesn't appear to accept that. I wonder why? The Kremlin invariably blinked, first.
I could not agree more and to add to this we need to see USSR as an successor to the old russian empire and it inherited its historical enemies in the "east " as well namely turkey, iran ,china and japan.
 
Top