FACT CHECK: Was the USS Montana Fitted With An Experimental Drive?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

The National Interest, the Global Times and other outlets reported that the USS Montana was fitted with a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) drive.

Verdict: False

The MHD drive is from the Hunt for Red October, a 1990 movie. The origin of the claim is from a Naval News article published on April Fool’s Day, which later updated the piece to note it was a joke.

Fact Check:

Multiple media outlets reported that the USS Montana was fitted with a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) drive. The National Interest’s headline reads, “A U.S. Navy Virginia-Class Submarine Now Has a Magnetohydrodynamic Drive.”

“A groundbreaking development for the Virginia-class, and indeed for naval propulsion technology as a whole, is the integration of a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) drive system,” reads the sub-headline.

This claim, though, is false. The MHD drive is from the 1990 movie Hunt for Red October, based on the 1984 novel by Tom Clancy. The Red October, the Soviet submarine and the namesake for the movie/novel, is fitted with a MHD drive in the movie, according to K&J Magnetics, Inc.

“A caterpillar drive. Magneto hydrodynamic propulsion. It’s like a jet engine for the water. Goes in the front, gets squirted out the back. Only it has no moving parts so it’s very, very quiet,” Skip Tyler, a character from the movie, says about the drive, according to IMDb.

The origin of the claim is from Naval News. Naval News published the article on April Fool’s Day and later updated it to read, “Important update on this article: April Fool’s.”

The article is chocked full of references to the classic movie. For example, Naval News stated, “USS Montana is expected to undergo sea trials on the Penobscot River in Maine.” The Penobscot River is where the Red October goes after it successfully defeats the Konovalov, which was sent to destroy it.

Furthermore, the USS Montana is likely a reference to first officer Vasily Borodin, as he says “I would like to have seen Montana” after being shot by the ship’s cook, an undercover GRU agent.

H I Sutton, who has been published in Naval News, thanked people who did not reveal it was an April Fool’s Day joke in an April 2 tweet.

The National Interest issued an update to its headline and a note at the bottom saying it was an April Fool’s joke, despite publishing the story on April 3, two days after April Fool’s Day. (RELATED: Facebook Post Falsely Claims Navy JAG Has Started Garland’s Military Tribunal, Accuses Him Of ‘Treason’)

The National Interest’s updated headline reads, “A Navy Virginia-Class Submarine Now Has a Magnetohydrodynamic Drive (April Fools!).” The note reads, “This piece has been updated to account for the April Fool’s joke on this topic. We apologize for any confusion on this.”

Other outlets were fooled by the Naval News article, according to the Debrief. The Global Times, which is published by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) flagship newspaper, the People’s Daily, also fell for the satire article.

The National Interest did not respond to Check Your Fact’s media inquiry.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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