Down Periscope

Corrected entry: When Graham is on the Orlando he is a flag officer. Although he has command of the task force in the exercise he can not take over command of the ship he is on. In Navy Regulations the Captain or Commanding Officer of the vessel has sole discretion over operation of such vessel and can not be overruled by a flag officer. Even if he is removed from command the first officer would maintain the authority until the ship returned to port.

New this month Correction: As you can see, Captain Knox did attempt to protest. But attempting to overrule a flag officer in this situation could cause harm to his career (in which case he would never make admiral and might be removed from command), especially with an officer like Graham on the promotion board. So he acquiesced. See also at the end Admiral Winslow told Graham to forget about a third star. Violating this regulation is probably the reason.


Corrected entry: When the Orlando finally gets a shooting solution on the Stingray and the admiral calls to gloat, he is quite surprised when Dodge informs him he's already fired his torpedoes. In reality, the sonar officer on the Orlando would have been screaming "Torpedo in the water!" as soon as the first torpedo left the Stingray.

Correction: In a normal situation sure, but in this scene there are 2 things that potentially limit the Orlando's ability to hear the Torpedoes. First the Stingray is running at flank speed, thereby creating as much noise as she is capable of producing, between the Orlando and the torpedoes potentially covering the weaker sound emissions from the torpedoes. Second the Orlando is running on the surface at high speed, as evidenced by her bow wave and the foaming water around her, creating a lot of noise herself in the form of water breaking around her, thereby degrading the efficiency of her sonar. In short it's possible that the Orlando missed the Stingray's torpedoes.

Corrected entry: When the stingray is trying to evade the Orlando by going between the rudders of an oil tanker, after Lt. Lake takes the control ("Balls to the walls, boys"), there are two different sets of actors at the rudders and the camera goes back and forth between the two sets of actors.

Correction: I just watched this scene again and I've seen a total of 3 actors in front of big "steering wheels" which coincides nicely with the submarines 3 control surfaces (forward diving planes, rear diving planes and rudders). One of the actors is seen only once where he directly responds to a rudder order and the other 2 are the actors playing Jackson and Spots at the boat's diving controls.


Corrected entry: Stepanik is introduced in the crew boarding scene as an Engineman First Class, however in the homecoming scene, his uniform insignia is that of a Machinist's Mate First Class.

Correction: This isn't really a mistake since it can simply be a result of Pascal's well-established incompetence. The guy screws everything else up so why not that?

Corrected entry: They're supposed to be far out at sea, but in the beginning of the "walk the plank" scene, as the camera looks at Nitro, the shoreline and buildings can be seen.

Movie Nut

Correction: This isn't a mistake since at no point is it established that they're "far out to sea". All we know is that they're out of a designated containment zone. The largest actual number given in the movie is "12,000 yards", and that's the range between ships and not ship-to-shore. Since there's no way to establish the submarine's distance to shore, having the shore visible in the background is not a mistake. Indeed, the fact that they dumped Pascal on what looks like a small fishing trawler highly suggests they ARE close to shore.

Corrected entry: This movie appears to take place in 1996. The first production Seawolf-class submarine was launched in 1998.

Correction: COs are usually assigned as part of a precomissioning crew so its not unlikely that Dodge would have found himself being posted to a vessel still being built. The Seawolf was itself launched in June 24, 1995, and was commissioned in July 19, 1998. Meaning Dodge was set to oversee the final stages of his submarine being built.

Corrected entry: The qualification badge of Lt. Lake's uniforms through most of the movie is that of a surface warfare officer. At the end of the movie she finally wears the correct qualification badge, the submarine warfare badge or commonly called "dolphins."

Correction: Submariners cannot become "qualified" until they have gone to sea on a submarine. Once at sea, Lake could have been awarded her Dolphins, and been authorized to wear the insignia. Until then, she wore her previously authorized Surface Warfare insignia.

Corrected entry: Nitro could not have operated as a connection for the radio circuit. The human body is not conductive enough.

Correction: Modern solid-state electronics use low voltage / low current connections. But the tube radios of WWII used much higher voltage and current loop circuits, which conceivably might be conducted along the skin (although I've never tried it, myself).

Corrected entry: The salute that Stepanek gives his father is incorrect. A proper U.S. military salute does not show the back of the hand; it shows it palm-down, angled slightly to the temple.

Correction: The military salute is intended to be the same for all services. In reality, the Navy and Marines have similar salutes which differ slightly from those is use by Army and Air Force personnel. Stepanek's childhood allowed him to learn proper Naval policies and protocols, including the art of saluting which he intentionally undermined just enough to manipulate BUPERSMAN into issuing separation orders. With new-found respect for his father, he executes a sharp salute that any sailor would recognize as proper form. The palm is angled inward so that it is visible in the right eye's periphery. My company commander taught us that a good Navy salute starts was a motion that looks like you are throwing scrambled eggs at your face. By default, this will always expose the back of the hand to the recipient.

Corrected entry: As the crew leaves the Stingray in dress uniform near the end, Lieutenant Lake's Mary-Jane style heels are completely non-regulation. While many of the crew are misfits and don't properly wear the uniform (or cut their hair) anyway, Lake was a "by-the-book" officer consistently through the whole film. United States Code Title 10 > Subtitle A > Part II > Chapter 45 > Section 772 > Statute F specifically allows that "While portraying a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, an actor in a theatrical or motion-picture production may wear the uniform of that armed force if the portrayal does not tend to discredit that armed force" so the argument that actual uniforms cannot be worn in movies does not apply (here or ever).

Correction: While Lt. Lake was by-the-book in the beginning; she became noticeably more easy going as the movie progressed. Evidence for this is in a few places like when she says "Balls to the walls boys" while steering the sub in a risky maneuver. Also she kisses Dodge to thank him. As to how the heels got packed into her luggage; we can't know her thinking but it would seem reasonable to conclude, that she had them there for a possible shore leave.

Corrected entry: Martin Pascal's index finger goes from the lid of coffee to the side of can a couple of times while yelling at Buckman. (00:18:15)

Correction: The part of the coffee can where Martin Pascals index finger is on the lid is out of frame in some of the shots, however when the frame returns to include the finger; it is in the same place as before.

Corrected entry: When Dodge looks through the periscope it shows a plane heading towards the "periscope" and the shot follows the plane. There's no way a periscope could get that kind of shot. The periscope is made to look at the surface of the water, not follow aircraft.


Correction: Submarine periscopes can elevate to look at planes and helicopters. In fact it's practice to look for any when at periscope depth.

Corrected entry: When the Stingray is entering the Denali's propwash, Lake informs the captain that they need to steer right. She assumes the conn, orders hard right rudder, then back 2/3rds. Right rudder in reverse would point the nose to the left, a situation they specifically wanted to avoid.

Correction: Except they're not going backwards, they're simply slowing down the sub to maneuver better.


Corrected entry: There are numerous references to the word "quadrant," being substituted for "region." A quadrant is one-fourth of something. It is not a generic, military-sounding name for a region.

Correction: The Stingray is confined to a containment zone for the duration of the exercise. As Graham had cut the zone in half by removing two sections, the zone had obviously been sectioned into quadrants.


Corrected entry: In the credits there is a name for a singing waitress named Annie Talbot. As far as I can tell, there is no singing waitress in this movie. (01:28:20)

Correction: Often if a person worked on the film, they will get their name in the credits even if the scene was cut. She's in the out takes singing "In the Navy".

Corrected entry: When Admiral Graham and Admiral Winslow are in Charleston harbor waiting for Commander Dodge to arrive, Admiral Graham states that he's in line for a third star. Admiral Winslow then replies that this would no longer make him outrank Graham. Admiral Winslow's uniform has three stars on it, so if Admiral Graham did receive a third star, this would mean that he wouldn't outrank Admiral Winslow but that they would both have the same rank.

Correction: Exactly - that was Winslow's point. "Oh my god! I'll no longer outrank you." He never implies Graham will outrank him.


Corrected entry: When the Admirals are going over Dodge's FitRep, Admiral Graham states that Dodge received his tattoo as an ensign. However it is also stated in other scenes that it happened after the Murmansk incident three years ago. One does not go from ensign to Lt. Commander in only three years.

Correction: Commander Dodge only says that after the Mermansk brushing incident he got "a" tattoo. He could easily have more than one.


Corrected entry: Near the end of the movie, the Stingray surfaces to run on top as it approaches the target ship. At some point afterwards, Dodge decides to take a shot at the ship with two torpedoes. Dodge is using the periscope to get the range, etc. to the target, and then fires the torpedoes. First, wouldn't they be on the bridge (outside) if they were running on the surface? And second, wouldn't the torpedoes be running near the surface of the water if they had been fired from a sub that was on the surface, instead of what appears to be deep water? In both cases it appears as if the Stingray were submerged when they fired the torpedoes, not running on top as it showed prior to firing the torpedoes. No order was given to "dive" before this series of events.

Correction: First, it is a character choice on Dodge's part not to go topside. The time and confusion created by the move would probably not be worth the advantages (if any) of changing locations. Second, even though the Stingray is running on the surface, at least four of her six forward torpedo tubes are still submerged. Therefore, torpedoes fired underwater make perfect sense. In addition, if they were fired in "deep water" the torpedoes would pass under the target ship.


Correction: The running depth of a torpedo is not determined by the depth of the tube launching it, but by the guidance program on board the torpedo. Also, modern torpedoes do run well below the surface since striking the side of a ship may not result in sufficient damage. Instead, torpedoes run beneath the ship and detonate below it in order to create a pressure wave to "break the back" of the target. That said, (and setting aside the fact that the SS-161 was decommissioned in 1930), it's unclear if the 1958 refit would have equipped the Stingray with "modern" torpedoes, but it is certainly possible. And, yes, the movie does depict a hull strike for each of the fish.

Corrected entry: In the scene when Pascal is being made to walk the plank, Lake seems surprised that he fell onto a fishing boat. Given her position on deck, she should have seen that the boat saw moored along side.

Correction: When we see the shot from on the deck, we as an audience cannot see the tiny ship, so it would stand to reason that she couldn't either from her position. Also, she may have just arrived on deck, as she might not have necessarily been out there the whole time.


Corrected entry: When they're at the bottom of the ocean running silent, look behind Jackson. The gauge reads 17ft salt water depth to keel. That can't be if they're at the bottom. (00:48:20)

Correction: On a Balao class submarine the planes station has two depth indicators. The "shallow" goes to 160 feet and is used for fine control near the surface. The "deep" goes much deeper. When the boat is deeper than 150 feet, the "shallow" gauge is isolated and vented to prevent damage. Image at: shallow gauge could be reading 17 feet with the boat much deeper.

Factual error: When the submarine rises in the waters of Norfolk and you see Norfolk in the background, there is one blatant problem. There are NO mountains in Norfolk. Most of Norfolk, Virginia, is below sea level.

More mistakes in Down Periscope

Pascal: Jesus, Buckman! This stuff has been on the Stingray since Korea! This can expired in 1966!
Buckman: What's the matter, sir? It still tastes like cream corn.
Pascal: Except it's deviled ham.

More quotes from Down Periscope

Trivia: In the scene when Lauren Holly, gives Kelsey Grammer, a kiss, her hitting her elbow was not in the original script. She really did hit her "funny bone" before walking off camera. The director had decided to keep it in the movie so they had to film an alternate shot of Grammer, laughing when it happened.

Rollin Garcia Jr
More trivia for Down Periscope

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