As indicated in both the film's story and in the real life mission, no medals nor awards nor commendations were issued by the British Government for the successful raid on Goa. James Leasor's book 'Boarding Party' states: "The authorities kept faith with the Light Horse over one particular promise. They would have no credit for what they volunteered to do, and there would be no medals. So closely was this last pledge adhered to that the men who had willingly risked their lives and careers, at their own expense, to carry out a task which produced unparalleled benefits, were categorically refused the right to wear one of Britain's humbler issue medals of the Second World War, the 1939-45 Star."
The movie's closing epilogue states: "During the first 11 days of March 1943, U-boats sank 12 Allied ships in the Indian Ocean. After the Light Horse raid on Goa, only one ship was lost in the remainder of that month."
The movie was dedicated to Lord Louis Mountbatten following his assassination by the IRA. The film's dedication reads: "This film is dedicated to the memory of the last Honorary Colonel of the Calcutta Light Horse - Admiral of the Fleet, The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, K.G. 1900 - 1979." According to Australian movie magazine 'Movie News', Mountbatten "helped with the preparations for the film version before his tragic death. 'The Last Charge of the Calcutta Light Horse' actually took place just before Mountbatten arrived in India in 1943 as Supreme Allied Commander in South-East Asia". Mountbatten wrote the foreword to James Leasor's book 'Boarding Party', of which this film is based. The foreword stated " . . . I immediately saw how valuable were the results of this operation. I am pleased that at last credit may be given to those who planned and carried it out."
Many of the lead cast were quite old to be appearing in an action film. Gregory Peck was 63, Trevor Howard was 66, whilst David Niven was 69. Their ages were reflective though of the movie's unique story.
The occupations of the real Calcutta Light Horse who partook in the raid on Goa included civilian businessmen, bankers, merchants, insurance agents, part-time soldiers, jute merchants, lawyers, accountants, and solicitors.
The Australian video-cassette sleeve notes state: "Such was the secrecy surrounding events which are now depicted in "The Sea Wolves" that it was only in 1978 [two years before this movie was made] that the facts about this carefully guarded operation could be made public following the lifting of restrictions under the [British] Official Secrets Act" whilst the Australian DVD sleeve notes say this movie is the " . . . retelling of true wartime exploits hidden until the 1978 British Official Secrets Act lifted security restrictions."
Roger Moore's character in this movie, Captain Gavin Stewart, connects somewhat with his James Bond persona. Stewart is involved as a spy in espionage activities, liaises romantically with a female spy, is seen in a tuxedo, gambles at a casino and is consistently suave and debonair. Moore made this movie between making the James Bond movies Moonraker (1979) and For Your Eyes Only (1981).
The lead character, Colonel Lewis Pugh, was played by Gregory Peck in this movie. The real Lewis Pugh, credited as Major-General Lewis Pugh, CB., CBE., DSO., JP. in this movie's closing credits, actually acted as this movie's chief military technical advisor.
The actual Second World War mission to raid Goa didn't just involved the Calcutta Light Horse unit. It also involved some members of the "Calcutta Scottish", a Scottish volunteer infantry regiment of the British Indian Army. Operation Boarding Party utilized fourteen men from the Calcutta Light Horse and four men from the Calcutta Scottish.
Operation Boarding Party was a covert operation set-up by the SOE (Special Operations Executive) in India and was commanded by Lewis Pugh and Gavin Stewart who are played under those real names in the film by Gregory Peck and Roger Moore respectively.
This movie featured a long subtitle to its main title The Sea Wolves (1980), it being "The Last Charge of the Calcutta Light Horse". This movie's source novel, 'Boarding Party', also had a long subtitle to its book title, it being "The Last Action of the Calcutta Light Horse".
The film's closing credits pay tribute to Commander B. S. Davies R.N., "...whose skill and courage at the helm of 'Phoebe' contributed so much to the success of the mission" [as depicted in this film]. Davies was an Assistant Conservator at the Port Commissioners of Calcutta, India.
This movie's closing credits state this movie's "End title[s] [feature black-and-white photo] pictures of the burning of [the three German Nazi ships] 'Ehrenfels', 'Drachenfels' and 'Braunfels' ([on] March 10,1943) and their salvage eight years later [in 1951]."
Fifty percent of the budget was provided by Lorimar. They fell out with United Artists, their distributor, before the film was delivered. Lorimar subsequently formed a new relationship with Paramount but producer Euan Lloyd thought that studio regarded the film as "the poor cousin" and as a result it "wasn't sold properly".