Down Periscope (1996) Poster


When the crew takes the 'Stingray' on its test dive after renovating the boat, Commander Dodge orders a depth of 500 feet. On the way down, as they pass 400 feet, Lieutenant Lake remarks that this was "crush depth". 400 feet was, in fact, "test depth" rating for the 'Balao'-class submarines. Meaning the submarine was not to be dived any deeper than 400 feet during peacetime, and is approximately 2/3rds of the depth the submarine was designed for. It might also be noted that there are several reported and accepted instances during WWII in which submarines went below their "crush depth" for short periods and survived relatively unscathed.
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The diesel submarine used in the movie is the USS Pampanito (SS 383), a WWII submarine currently (2000) on display to the public at Pier 45 in San Francisco, California.
Harry Dean Stanton - playing the veteran Chief Engineer, Howard - actually served in the navy during WWII.
CPO Howard, Chief Engineer says at one point "This is what I live for, DBF!". DBF stands for Diesel Boats Forever.
In the scene towards the end where Lt. Lake enters LC Dodge's cabin and kisses him, Lauren Holly hits her elbow backing out the doorway. This was unintentional and Kelsey Grammer's reaction almost ruined the take. As a noticeable bruise developed during later takes and they (Grammer and Holly) couldn't stop laughing, this was the take used in the film.
When Dodge and the Admiral are talking just after he's seen the Stingray Dodge asks if he's supposed to turn the submarine into a museum. The 'Pampanito', the sub used in the movie, is a museum at pier 45 in San Francisco.
The USS Pampanito could not move under her own power. The underwater shots were scale models. The surface shots actually were the Pampanito, however she was being towed.
While it has been criticized for some of its concepts, many of the underlying ideas of the movie are accurate. Modern diesel submarines (not a retired World War II submarine) using their electric batteries are capable of being notably quieter than nuclear submarines. Many navies operate modern versions of the submarine shown, and their vessels are quite effective in their roles. Experts have criticized the U.S. Navy at various times for not employing a few of this type of submarine in the force.
The USS Stingray in the movie was actually the USS Pampanito, a WWII era Balao class submarine. In the Pacific Theatre, it sank or heavily damaged ten ships.
Dodge objects to Lt. Lake's assignment to the Stingray, citing the U.S. Navy's rule against women on board submarines. The film was released in 1996, one year after Norway became the first naval power to promote a female officer to command of a submarine.
Harry Dean Stanton played a very similar role in 1979's "Alien." Both characters were engineers on a, "ship," with similar attitudes and wore, "Hawaiian," style shirts.
At the end of the movie, Lt. Cmdr. Tom Dodge ('Kelsey Grammar') is informed by Vice Adm. Dean Winslow (Rip Torn) that he would not be receiving a Los Angeles Class submarine, but would instead be placed in command of a Seawolf Class submarine. The Seawolf Class was intended to be the replacement for the Los Angeles Class, however due to high costs, only three were ever built. Ultimately the more cost-effective Virginia Class was chosen to succeed the Los Angeles Class in the US Navy.
At the very end of the movie, when the U.S.S. Stingray is tied up to the pier and the crew is marching off, a white-hulled vessel is visible in the background. This vessel is a 95 foot retired Cape-class U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (U.S.C.G.C. Cape Romain), which was at the time operated by Sea Scout Ship 17 (youth program similar to Boy Scouts), based out of San Mateo, CA. The ship was requested to be on-location at a pier in San Francisco (most of the harbor footage was shot in the Bay Area; the mothball fleet depicted early in the movie really exists and is near Benicia, CA) to make it appear more like a military base. The Cape Romain is currently operated by Sea Scout Ship 51 (S.S.S. Intrepid), based out of Palo Alto, CA.
According to Tom Arnold in an interview with Howard Stern, he was originally offered the lead role, but turned it down. He also said in the interview that Kelsey Grammer did a much better job than he would have.
Film debut of comedian Patton Oswalt.
When Kelsey Grammer pulls into the parking space he is singing part of the ending theme from Frasier even with the "Thank you. "
Patton Oswalt had to leave filming roughly two weeks early to pursue a job as a staff writer for MADtv.
During the majority of the film, LT Emily Lake (Lauren Holly) is seen wearing the Officer's Surface Warfare Insignia. After the Stingray docks in Norfolk at the end, she can be seen wearing Officer's Submarine Warfare Insignia.
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The USS Stingray 161 was a Balao-class diesel submarine also used in the making of "In Enemy Hands" as USS Swordfish 161, a 2004 film which also starred William H. Macy, and Lauren Holly.
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The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

At the end of the film, the 'victorious' Stingray crew is shown filing up what appears to be a covered staircase hatchway. This stairway is a conversion for the convenient and safe access of tourists and is typical of WW2 subs converted to museums, but such a configuration would never survive a dive and is in any case not streamlined for underwater travel. The original hatchway would have been a vertical tube with a standard submarine ladder, topped by a dogged pressure hatch. Such a hatch cannot be exited in a marching line.
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