History 02/02/20 “Crazy Ivan”: the most dangerous maneuver of Soviet submariners

during the Cold war, Soviet nuclear submarines were under constant surveillance and anti-submarine forces of NATO. It is quite usual for the Russian submarine “maneuver to evade surveillance” Western colleagues dubbed the Crazy Ivan (translated as “crazy Ivan”, “crazy Ivan” or “Ivan the Fool”). Under this name the maneuver and NATO appears in textbooks on naval tactics.


If the commander of the Russian submarine suspected directly followed by an enemy submarine, he was sharply ordered to turn around, to check sonar the so-called “dead zone” at the stern. Such rate changes could be several within a short time. The necessity of the maneuver was due to the fact that its submarine propellers create powerful sound waves, preventing the sonar to distinguish between background noise behind the side.
a Vivid description of “crazy Ivan” is given in the novel by Tom Clancy “the Hunt for Red October. In the story, the Americans hunted down the submarine “Red October”, the commander of which ceased to submit to the Navy yard and headed to the shores of America. The surveillance is carried out on Board the submarine “Dallas”, but shortly after the Americans discover Russian submarine that performs a “crazy Ivan”.

“a thousand yards in front of the “Dallas” contact, followed by the American submarine, just started a sharp turn to the right. The Russians did this every two hours after the Americans once again found them, although not with such regular intervals that “Dallas” could follow any certain schedule,” – said in the text.

as soon As NATO troops saw that the enemy turns around, they are to a minimum reduced the power of the reactor – only in silence, they had a chance to stay “invisible” to the speakers. Divers even stop razgovarivatü on Board, while you had to avoid contact between the sides. Tom Clancy mentioned that the maneuver Crazy Ivan often became the reason of collisions of U.S. submarines to Russian. Therefore, the fear of “submarine accident”, the Americans were reluctant to get too close to the Soviet submarines.
a Famous case of a collision because of the “crazy Ivan” is an incident in the sea of Okhotsk in 1970 with the participation of submarines of the U.S. Navy Tautog and the Soviet submarine K-108. Russian for 8 hours trying to spot the enemy, combining turns 180 degrees with changes of depth and running this file.

According to one version, the submarine “Kursk” in 2000 could be lost for the same reason.

Origin of name

we should Not think that divers of other countries are not doing a sudden reversal if they fall under the scope of the enemy torpedoes. However, when we are not talking about the Russian, commonly used the phrase “swinging pendulum”. Why Russian maneuver received a separate name?

Linguists consider the expression Crazy Ivan to the category of military jargon, using national stereotypes. It is based on a common Russian name Ivan, the crazy epithet characterizes a special surprise this maneuver. It is possible that the Soviet Navy actually did it more dramatically than others. Note that the “Russian” in the Western languages is traditionally associated with risk and surprise (“Russian roulette”, “roller coaster”).

the name of the maneuver prompted American journalists to the idea to deploy the metaphor of a “crazy Ivan” to personalized image.

“He’s the captain of the Russian submarine, which floats quietly forward, and then suddenly makes a cycle, turning left and right, ducking and climbing, accelerating and slowing down. Then, as suddenly “crazy Ivan” returns to the old course and passes a couple of hours before performing the same maneuver” – he described the behavior of the enemy in the waters of the Atlantic the newspaper “new York times” in December 1979.

let’s Add that currently the implementation of “crazy Ivan” is meaningless, because modern pipes are towed sonar system, and the concept of “dead zone” has gone down in history.

Timur Sagdiyev

© Russian Seven

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