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Crimson Tide

Crimson Tide (1995)

20 corrections

Directed by: Tony Scott

Starring: Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, Viggo Mortensen

Genres: Action, Drama, Thriller

Corrected entry: You don't wear your working uniforms underway. You all have coveralls on, both officers and enlisted.

New this month Correction: Coveralls did not become the primary uniform underway until the NWU Type I was found to melt, which was post 2010. Prior to that, enlisted wore the blue two piece working uniform, and officers and chiefs wore khakis.

Corrected entry: No XO of any submarine would EVER don fire fighting gear and go fight a galley fire as portrayed. This can't be explained away as a 'character decision'. It is simply inconceivable that an experienced XO like Hunter would personally tackle a galley fire. On board a sub there is a dedicated fire fighting team made up of members of the boat's crew. The XO's place is on the bridge or emergency control centre as it is his job to co-ordinate the fire fighting effort. This is partly due to the fact that as the XO he may be required to attend to other situations that could arise (which is EXACTLY what happens in the movie). Hunter was actually in serious breach of protocol/ regulations by risking his life fighting the fire himself. Though it may seem bizarre to civilians, Hunter would in reality face much graver consequences for doing this than he would for anything else he does in the movie.

Correction: On my boat (USS New Hampshire SSN-778), the XO is the man in charge at the scene of the casualty, and the Officer of the Deck retains the deck and the conn. If need be, the CO is also in control to deal with any other issues that may arise.

Corrected entry: At both the beginning and the end of the film, when Hunter is shown in full uniform including his cover (hat), the brim has no braiding. Hunter is a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) and would have a single row of braiding or Scrambled Eggs as they are referred to.

Correction: Not true. Navy LCDRs, unlike the USMC, US Army, and USAF, do NOT wear fretting/braiding/scrambled eggs on their cover-and they never have (i.e. Not a "new thing") Only Naval Officers CDR (O5) and above will have fretting on their covers. This is well known and easily confirmed via a basic search of Navy uniform regs.

Corrected entry: Hunter gives the order to fire torpedoes 2 and 4. The external shot shows the torpedoes firing from opposite sides of the sub. On all US submarines, tubes 2 and 4 are on the same side.

Correction: The Alabama does launch from tubes on the same side. It is the enemy Akula that launches from opposite sides in that sequence.

Corrected entry: After the first torpedo attack, it is explained to the XO that the last EAM was cut off when the radio buoy's cable was severed in the attack. An outside shot shows the rear of the sub traveling forward away from camera, with the frayed cable trailing from the top of the sub's hull at a slightly upward angle, and running beyond the rudder. In fact, what should really happen in the shot, is the cable will follow the surface of the hull because the flow of water around the sub would force it to. That would put the cable right into the propeller and cause all sorts of mayhem. This mistake could have been easily avoided by simply having had the cable cut shorter in the attack.

Correction: The cables for the towed arrays, including buoys on a Ohio-class submarine, are buoyant, and will not tangle with the prop, it is designed for this purpose.

Corrected entry: The cook who was killed is well beyond the Navy's weight standards. He should never have been on the boat to begin with.

Correction: Because he was a chief, he can get away with being over weight. I served with plenty of fat chiefs on the boat.


Corrected entry: I have been in some stressful situations on board, but I don't believe I ever heard "holy shit sir" on the 21 MC like the sonar sup does here.

Correction: In times of extreme stress, people can and do say things that are not appropriate or required, even without realizing they said it. That you've never heard it personally doesn't mean it could never happen.

Corrected entry: In one scene Denzel Washington says that the last time American went to DEFCON three was during the Cuban Missile Crisis (which occurred in 1962). They apparently didn't look far enough forward in the history books. In October 1973 when Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a surprise attack on Israel, America upgraded to DEFCON three because of fears that the Soviets may also intervene.

Correction: Character mistake by Commander Hunter, one that was not caught (or at least, not corrected publically) by the Captain.


Corrected entry: Dougherty and Weps argue on the bus about who starred in the submarine warfare movie 'The Enemy Below.' Dougherty was correct, in was Curt Jurgens. Dougherty was wrong, though, about the star of the movie 'Run Silent Run Deep.' It was Clark Gable, not Cary Grant.

Correction: Not really trivia. More of a character mistake.

Mister Ed

Corrected entry: In submarine movies the interior set is normally larger than life, to allow the movement of crew and equipment. But in Crimson Tide, the Alabama is WAY to big on the inside. In real life, the captain can stand by the periscope and tap the diving officer on the shoulder without moving his feet, whereas Gene Hackman had to walk a great distance to talk to George Dzundza.

Correction: On the Ohio class submarines the periscope platform is about 10 feet from the Diving Officers chair, so the Captian can not "tap the Diving Officer with out moving his feet". The movie is correct in that case.

Corrected entry: In one scene, Captain Ramsey threatens to shoot Weaps if he doesn't open the safe that contains the tactical firing trigger. Then he says it does him no good to kill Weaps, as he's the only one who knows the combination to the safe. It is unlikely that only one person knows the combination: what if that person had died in the galley fire or drowned in the bilge bay? The crew is left with a safe that can't be opened.

Correction: Saying something is unlikely does not constitute a mistake, besides your mistake is more opinion than fact. Whether or not someone in the crew should know the combination or not doesn't seem too important. At the time Ramsey was intent on firing the missile and this might have been the quickest and only route that was available to him. Besides, it was the firing trigger, not the oxygen supplies. I think if something happened to him they would at least be able to go on.


Corrected entry: In the scene where Gene Hackman regains command of the Alabama, he tells his loyal officers to inform their men personally that he is again in command of the ship. As soon as they turn around to go back to their stations, Gene Hackman picks up the intercom and tells the entire ship that he is again in command. So why did he want his men to do it, if he was going to do it himself?

Correction: He makes an intercom announcement which he then wants his officers to *personally* communicate otherwise it may not be believed.

Corrected entry: When Gene Hackman does the drill right after the fire, his crew gets the codes out of a container marked "training" or "drill" or something of that nature. When the real EAM comes through and they get the codes out of the safe, they grab the training codes instead of the real ones.

Correction: They grab the "launch" authenticator during the real EAM. It's the one on the right. The "drill" authenticators are on the left. They definitely grab the right codes for each occasion.

Corrected entry: SSBN's (boomers) are too valuable to go out on patrol alone. They are ALWAYS accompanied by an attack sub whose job it is to "sanitize" the boomer's area of operation of unfriendly subs.

Correction: US boomers (especially the Trident/Ohios) are way quieter than the Russian SSNs. In fact the Ohios have only been tracked a few times by the Russian subs. The Ohios are also known as the Black Holes of the ocean because their noise is even lower than the natural backgound noise. So the Ohios doesn't need escorts.

Corrected entry: U.S. Submariners do not salute underway because military protocol stipulates that saluting does not occur indoors.

Correction: However, a ship, either above decks or below, is considered outdoors, and you will salute regardless.

Corrected entry: When the men are attempting to repair the radio, one of the men is talking on a Navy phone set which requires you to push in a button on the handset. He is pushing in the button in most scenes but in one particular scene he is holding handset between his shoulder and ear while working with both hands.

Correction: In the scene where he is holding the handset with his shoulder, he talks with Hunter who is downstairs somewhere. This is not the same radio he talks to the bridge with.

Corrected entry: There is no way a dog would ever be allowed on a US nuclear sub and would definitely not be allowed to relieve itself in one of the main areas. I know quite a few men in the Navy who are not very fond of that.

Correction: This was addressed early in the movie. We are told that Gene Hackman's character is one of the few contemporary sub captains with combat experience. For that reason, the Navy "looked the other way" when it came to the dog.

Corrected entry: Using 10 nukes (at least) to destroy a base seems a tremendous overkill. A couple of standard missiles or bombs would do the job perfectly.

Correction: It would take a lot more then a couple of "standard" missiles or bombs to destroy an entire nuclear missile base. This would require a intense air raid against the base, and given that the Russian renegades were already fueling the missiles, there would not have been time for such a raid. Also, the side launching the attack must assume that one or more of their missiles could be intercepted.

Corrected entry: the Alabama is shown diving underwater with a long cable attached in two scenes, long before the scene of the launch of radio beacon happens (when winch cable gets cut and cable remains dangling...)

Correction: That would be the towed array sonar cable.

Corrected entry: Why is it that all Submarine movies have the obligatory flooding scene, yet no one ever does the math on how much force it takes to close a hatch after the compartment is flooded. In the scene in question there is flooding in what is known as the "Snake Pit" on submarines. The sailor tries to save his buddy but finally has to close the hatch when his shipmate cannot get out in time. Unfortunately, everyone should die because of this error. Mathematically the hatch, which on my sub was 28" is too big to be able to close against sea pressure, Area of a circle is: pi times r squared so; 28/2 = 14, 14 squared = 196, 196 times 3.1416 (pi) = 615 sq.in. Sea pressure at 100 feet is 44 pounds per square inch so 44 times 615 inches is 27,060 pounds of force on the underside of that hatch. Divided by 2000 pounds per ton means that that sailor, who successfully closed that hatch in the movie, must have weighed over 13.5 tons.

Correction: The pressure calculation should be done on the opening of the hole in the hull, not the opening of the hatch. The pressure at the hatch can only be as high as the pressure at the hole in the hull. There would still have been air in the compartment he was in, and that would absorb some of the pressure.


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After the submarine is hit by the first torpedo, all the crew are picking up things that have fallen down in the underwater turbulence. Then when the captain returns to his personal cabin, all his belongings (most noticeably on his desk) are all in position as though the attack never happened.



I just saw the movie Crash Dive 2 (which is also about submarines and also involves an enemy Akula-class sub) and it has many recycled scenes from Crimson Tide. To name a few: the scene where the sub does a "snap shot" of two torpedoes, the scene of the Akula being hit, and the scene where a torpedo barely misses the heroes' sub.