US Submarine Commander Rates 14 Submarine Scenes In Movies | How Real Is It?

Former US submarine commander L. David Marquet rated the realism of submarine scenes in popular movies, judging their technological accuracy as well as the depiction of life on board.

Marquet addresses the realism of nuclear crisis movies, such as “The World Is Not Enough” and “K-19: The Widowmaker,”. He also rated the accuracy of standoff scenes in “The Hunt for Red October,” “The Enemy Below”, “Hunter Killer,” and “Crimson Tide.” He also breaks down the realism of costumes, tactics, and terminology from “U-571.”

Is life on board a submarine, including confined conditions and drills, as depicted in “Das Boot”? Would Navy SEALs enter a submarine from a HALO drop similar to “Act of Valor”, and is it possible for a submarine to hear music from the water’s surface, like in  “The Wolf’s Call”? Can holes on a submarine be plugged with pins and other metal objects, as we see in “The Simpsons”? Would nuclear missiles be triggered by dislodging in a ship interior, such as in “Aquaman”?

Marquet graduated top of his class from the US Naval Academy and served for 28 years on submarines, including as an engineer officer aboard the USS Will Rogers, then as captain on the USS Olympia and the USS Santa Fe. Having retired in 2009, he is now a Wall Street Journal best-selling author of “Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders.”

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US Submarine Commander Rates 14 Submarine Scenes In Movies | How Real Is It?


49 Replies to “US Submarine Commander Rates 14 Submarine Scenes In Movies | How Real Is It?”

  1. It is one of the last white male submarine commanders. Very soon we will see The black chinese trans 500-Lb LGBTQ feminists, our new and proud nuclear fleet captains.

  2. 10 years as a Navy submariner. Das Boot was the favorite movie of my era. “GET ME MORE WIRE!” Jumpering flooded battery cells while the boat fills up with gas. Realistic as hell.

  3. They can't really explode simply because a reactor melts down, but didn't the russian subs carry torps that ran on hydrogen peroxide. If so the seals on those breaking would be pretty disastrous albeit for the crew and not the enemy ship.

  4. While I'm sure he was an extremely good captain, I draw issue with the 0/10 rating on K-19. He is absolutely correct in saying that the reactor would not explode, nor would it result in the detonation of the onboard weapons. However, Zateyev did, mistakenly, believe that it would. Additionally, while Zateyev did not believe it would damage a nearby vessel, he did believe it would damage a nearby NATO base. This isn't perpetuating a myth, this is what the persons in the situation believed at the time. Even though those beliefs were factually inaccurate. All of this was documented in Mikhail Gorbachev's written submission that the crew be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

  5. In “Crimson Tide” there is a scene where Captain Ramsey (Gene Hackman) talks about “metallurgy and nuclear reactors” being taught at the Naval War College instead of (19th century military philosophy (von Clauswitz). Actually, you WOULD teach about von Clauswitz at the NWC. The metallurgy and nuclear reactors would be taught at Nuclear Power School.

  6. I had a girlfriend whose Father served on a submarine in WW2. I know they used a straw broom against steam pipes to see if there was any holes, since they couldn't use their hands since they would be horribly burned. He had nightmares about it, and walked out of a showing of Das Boot.
    I don't know how he reacted to The Simpsons.

  7. Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about, but was there not an issue with Soviet torpedoes detonating due to their fuel and not the warhead? Was that not what happened with the Kursk?

  8. Das Boot is based on a novel and when it came out in Germany, every U-Boat Veteran alive was invited to see it for free. Many of them had to leave mid-movie as it became so realistic it started to stir up old memories.

    Also during the course of the war the term "der Alte" (the old man) became more of an ironic nickname on German submarines – as even the Commanders often were merely in their mid-20s and ended up commanding a bunch of teenagers due to the ridiculous losses the Kriegsmarine suffered from 1943 onward.

  9. Sorry but you’re absolutely wrong around 10:00. All U-Boats used electric engines when diving. Just like most of their WWI ancestors…. The Diesel engines were used for propulsion on the surface and for recharging the batteries.

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