It is no secret that many military-based comedy films aren’t all that realistic- but very few are shot on a real-life piece of military hardware.
While even fewer, it seems, are filmed on the set of aforementioned hardware with an impressive battle record, the movie “Down Periscope” would be an exception to the rule.
Filmed in 1996, the submarine-themed comedy featuring Kelsey Grammer would likely have not been allowed past modern-day censorship, but has proven to be a staple film for submarine crews to enjoy.
The plot revolves around an eccentric US Navy Lieutenant Commander Thomas Dodge, who is on his third -and last- consideration for command of his own nuclear submarine.
Due to a clash between a rear admiral (who hates Dodge) and a vice admiral (who admires Dodge’s renegade style), the lieutenant commander is put in charge of a World War II-era Balao-class submarine, the fictitious and rust-covered “Stingray.” Given a crew of misfits, Dodge must evade top-of-the-line nuclear submarines and destroy target ships in two harbors (a “red force” exercise designed to test port vulnerability) if he is to rank up and command a boat of his own.
While the plucky “Stingray” succeeds in the end, the submarine itself was no mere prop: it was the USS Pampanito (SS-383/AGSS-383).