Crimson Tide

1995 film by Tony Scott

Crimson Tide is a 1995 film about a clash of wills between the new executive officer of a U.S. nuclear missile submarine and its seasoned commanding officer, arising from conflicting interpretations of an order to launch their missiles.

On the brink of nuclear war, two men clash over the fate of the world.
Directed by Tony Scott. Written by Michael Schiffer.
Danger runs deep Taglines
We're here to preserve democracy, not practice it.
This might be our Commander-in-Chief's Navy, but this is my boat. And all I ask is that you keep up with me. And if you can't... that strange sensation you'll be feeling in the seat of your pants will be my boot in your ass!
Be careful there, Mr. Hunter. It's all I've got to rely on, being a simple-minded son of a bitch. Rickover gave me my command, a checklist, a target and a button to push. All I gotta know is how to push it, they tell me when. They seem to want you to know why.

Captain Frank RamseyEdit

  • What'd you think, son? That I was just some crazy old coot, putting everyone in harm's way as I yelled "YEE-HA!"?
  • We're here to preserve democracy—not to practice it.


[Captain Ramsey addresses the crew before boarding the Alabama]
Capt. Frank Ramsey: Little ducks, there's trouble in Russia. So they called us. And we're going over there and bringing the most lethal killing machine ever devised. We're capable of launching more firepower than has ever been released in the history of war. For one purpose alone: To keep our country safe. We constitute the front line and the last line of defense. I expect and demand your very best. Anything less, you should have joined the Air Force. [crew laughs] This might be our Commander-in-Chief's Navy, but this is my boat. And all I ask is that you keep up with me. And if you can't... that strange sensation you'll be feeling in the seat of your pants will be my boot in your ass! [crew laughs again; Ramsey returns to dock stage and calls out over sound system] Mr. COB!
Chief of the Boat: Yes, sir?
Ramsey: You're aware of the name of this ship, aren't you Mr. COB?
Chief of the Boat: Very aware, sir!
Ramsey: It bears a proud name, doesn't it, Mr. COB?
Chief of the Boat: Very proud, sir!
Ramsey: It represents fine people.
Chief of the Boat: Very fine people, sir!
Ramsey: Who live in a fine, outstanding state.
Chief of the Boat: Outstanding, sir!
Ramsey: In the greatest country in the entire world.
Chief of the Boat: In the entire world, sir!
Ramsey: And what is that name, Mr. COB?
Chief of the Boat: Alabama, sir!
Ramsey: And what do we say?
Ramsey, Chief of the Boat: GO 'BAMA!
Capt. Ramsey: Chief of the Boat, dismiss the crew.
Chief of the Boat: Dismiss the crew, aye-aye sir. [addresses crew] Crew, department heads, attend to your departments. FALL OUT! [crew begins embarking at bugle call]

Capt. Ramsey: Think it was a mistake, Mr. Hunter?
Hunter: Sir?
Capt. Ramsey: Using the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Hunter: Well, if I thought that, sir, I wouldn't be here.
Capt. Ramsey: Interesting way you put that.
Hunter: How'd I put it, sir?
Capt. Ramsey: Very carefully. [Chuckles]
[Men laughing]
Capt. Ramsey: You do qualify your remarks. If someone asked me if we should bomb Japan, a simple "Yes. By all means sir, drop that fucker, twice!"
[Men laughing]
Capt. Ramsey: I don't mean to suggest that you're indecisive, Mr. Hunter. Not at all. Just, uh... complicated. 'course, that's the way the Navy wants you. Me, they wanted simple.
Hunter: Well, you certainly fooled them, sir.
Ramsey: [chuckles] Be careful there, Mr. Hunter. It's all I've got to rely on, being a simple-minded son of a bitch. Rickover gave me my command, a checklist, a target and a button to push. All I gotta know is how to push it, they tell me when. They seem to want you to know why.
Hunter: I would hope they'd want us all to know why, sir.
Ramsey: At the Naval War College it was metallurgy and nuclear reactors, not 19th-century philosophy. "War is a continuation of politics by other means." Von Clausewitz.
Hunter: I think, sir, that what he was actually trying to say was a little more -
Ramsey: Complicated?
[Men laughing]
Hunter: Yes the purpose of war is to serve a political end but the true nature of war is to serve itself.
Ramsey: [Laughing] I'm very impressed. In other words, the sailor most likely to win the war is the one most willing to part company with the politicians and ignore everything except the destruction of the enemy. You'd agree with that.
Hunter: I'd agree that, um, that's what Clausewitz was trying to say.
Ramsey: But you wouldn't agree with it?
Hunter: No, sir, I do not. No, I just think that in the nuclear world, the true enemy can't be destroyed.
[Men look to one another as Ramsey fall silent]
Ramsey: [Chuckling, tapping glass] Attention on deck. Von Clausewitz will now tell us exactly who the real enemy is. [Gestures to Hunter] Von?
[Men laughing]
Hunter: In my humble opinion... in the nuclear world, the true enemy is war itself.

Hunter: Captain, here's the results from the missile drill.
Capt. Ramsey: [looks at the missile drill results] Is this the best they can do?
Hunter: No sir. But, that's what they did.
Capt. Ramsey: I want this down to five minutes. Train on it.
Hunter: Yes, sir.
Capt. Ramsey: Tell your buddy Weaps to do it again, and keep on doing it until he gets it right.
Hunter: Yes, sir.
Capt. Ramsey: It looks like the whole crew needs a kick in the ass.
Hunter: Or a pat on the back, sir. I just witnessed a fight down in crew's mess, no big deal. It appears that the crew is a bit on edge about all we're going through. Morale seems a bit low.
Capt. Ramsey: [picks up the intercom and speaks into it] May I have your attention please, crew of the Alabama, Mr. Hunter has brought it to my attention that morale maybe a bit low. and you might be a bit... [looks to Hunter]
Hunter: [whispers] On edge.
Capt. Ramsey: [over the intercom] On edge. So, I suggest this. Any crew member who thinks that they can't handle the situation, can leave the ship right now. Gentlemen, we are at DEFCON three, war is IMMINENT. This is the Captain. That is all. [hangs up the intercom]
Hunter: Very inspiring, sir.

[Following the rebel Russian submarine's attack, which damaged the Alabama's communications equipment]
Hunter: Captain? Got the EAM.
[Ramsey sees the EAM message which is shown incomplete]
Hunter: What do you think?
Ramsey: I think there's nothing on this.
Hunter: Yes, sir. It, uh, got cut off during the attack.
Ramsey: Then it's meaningless.
Hunter: Sir, this is an EAM pertaining to nuclear missiles.
Ramsey: No, Mr. Hunter, that's a message fragment.
Hunter: Because it got cut off during the attack, sir. The message could mean anything. It could be a message to abort. It could be a message--
Ramsey: Could be a fake Russian transmission.
Hunter: Which is exactly why we need to confirm it, sir. All I'm asking for is the time we need to get back on line.
Ramsey: Calm down, Mr. Hunter.
Hunter: I am calm.
Ramsey: You don't appear to be calm.
Weapons: Conn/Weapons: Missile systems ready to launch in four minutes.
Ramsey: Step aside, seaman.
Seaman: Yes, sir.
[Faint Radio Transmission]
Ramsey: We have orders in hand, and those orders are to make a preemptive launch. Every second that we lose increases the chances, that by the time our missiles arrive, their silos could be empty, 'cause they've flown their birds and struck us first.
Hunter: Yes, sir.
Ramsey: You know as well as I do that any launch order received without authentication is no order at all.
Hunter: Captain... National Mili…
Ramsey: [continues to talk over Hunter] That's our #1 rule. That rule is the basis for the scenario we've trained on time and time again.
Hunter: Yes, sir.
Ramsey: It's a rule we follow without exception.
Hunter: Captain, National Military Command Center knows what sector we're in. They have satellites looking down on us to see if our birds are aloft. And if they're not, then they give our orders to somebody else. That's why we maintain more than one sub. It's what they call "redundancy."
Ramsey: I know about redundancy, Mr. Hunter. [walks off]
Hunter: All I'm saying...
[Crew stares at Hunter before he meets with Ramsey again, speaking discreetly]
Hunter: All I'm saying, Captain, is that we have backup. Now, it's our duty not to launch until we can confirm.
Ramsey: You're presuming that we have other submarines out there ready to launch. But as captain, I must assume that our submarines could have been taken out by other Akulas. We can play these games all night, Mr. Hunter, but I don't have the luxury of your presumptions.
Hunter: Sir...
Ramsey: Mr. Hunter, we have rules that are not open to interpretation, personal intuition, gut feelings, hairs on the back of your neck, little devils or angels sitting on your shoulders.
Hunter: Captain...
Ramsey: We're all very well aware of what our orders are and what those orders mean. They come down from our Commander-in-Chief. They contain no ambiguity.
Hunter: Captain, sir...
Ramsey: Mr. Hunter, I've made the decision. I'm captain of this boat. Now shut the fuck up! Damn. [over the intercom] Weapons/Conn: Shift targeting to target package SLBM 64741/2. This is the Captain.
[Ramsey gives the intercom to Hunter]
Hunter: ...Captain, I cannot concur.
Ramsey: Repeat my command.
Hunter: Sir, we don't know what this means. Our target package could have changed.
Ramsey: You repeat this order or I'll find somebody who will!
Hunter: [stares at Ramsey] Hell no, you won't, sir.
Ramsey: You're relieved of your position. COB, remove Mr. Hunter from the control room. Get Lieutenant Zimmer in here now!
Hunter: No, sir, I do not concur and I do not recognize your authority to relieve me on the command under Navy regulations.
Ramsey: COB, arrest this man and get him out!
Hunter: Captain Ramsey, under operating procedures governing the release of nuclear weapons we cannot launch our missiles unless both you, and I agree.
Ramsey: [shouting over Hunter] COB, what're you waiting for?!
Hunter: Now this is not a formality, sir! This is expressly why your command must be repeated! It requires my assent, I do not give it! And furthermore, if you continue upon this course, and insist upon this launch without confirming this message first...
Ramsey: [shouting over Hunter] Son of a bitch... As commanding officer of the USS Alabama I order you to place the XO under arrest under charges of mutiny.
Hunter: I will be forced, backed by the rules of precedents...
Ramsey: [shouting at the Chief of the Boat, over Hunter] I say again, as commanding officer of the USS Alabama, I order you...
Hunter: -authority and command, regulation 08150H6 of the Navy regulations, to relieve you of command, Captain!
Ramsey: -to place the XO under arrest, under charges of mutiny! [Silence all round] COB!
Chief of the Boat: Captain, please, the XO is right. We can't launch unless he concurs.
Ramsey: [reading EAM] "To the USS Alabama: Rebel-controlled missiles being fuelled. Launch codes compromised, dissidents threaten to launch at continental United States, set DEFCON 2. Immediately launch ten Trident missile sorties." They're FUELING THEIR MISSILES! We don't have time to fuck around!
Hunter: Sir, I think you need time to think this over.
Hunter: Captain, I relieve you of your command of this ship. COB, escort the Captain off the bridge, I'm assuming command.
Ramsey: You're not assuming anything!
Hunter: CHIEF OF THE BOAT, Captain Ramsey is under arrest — lock him in his stateroom!
Chief of the Boat: Captain, please...
Hunter: NOW, COB!
Chief of the Boat: Aye, sir. Mitchell, Walker, take the Captain below.
[Ramsey goes to leave, then turns and throws his missile key to Hunter]
Ramsey: You're out of your league, Hunter. You're not ready to make difficult decisions yet.

Hunter: Look, it wasn't a mutiny, I did everything by the book.
Chief of the Boat: It's not about the book. If the Russians are gonna launch and we sit here and do nothing... who's gonna stop 'em? Half of me's glad the Captain came back.
Hunter: No orders are right if they're wrong.
Chief of the Boat: We don't know that.
Hunter: You're right, we don't know. That's why it's our job to find out. [pours coffee] What if Radchenko surrendered and it's over, huh? We launch. They see us, and they launch. Our birds pass each other in the air. Boom. What have you got?
Chief of the Boat: Nuclear war.
Hunter: Nuclear holocaust.

Weapons Officer: Conn, weapons. Russian missiles will have launch capability in seven minutes.
Capt. Ramsey: God help you if you're wrong.
Hunter: If I'm wrong, then we're at war. God help us all.

[Captain Ramsey and Lt Cdr Hunter face the US Navy board of inquiry]
Admiral Anderson: Stand there, Lieutenant Commander Hunter, this won't take long. This panel has convened in order to investigate the events subsequent to the setting of condition 1SQ for strategic missile launch aboard the USS Alabama on 1 November. Now based on the testimony of personnel onboard the Alabama and in no small measure to that of the senior officer, Captain Ramsey, I'm prepared to make my recommendations to SUBPAC.
LCdr Hunter: Without my testimony, sir?
Anderson: You have a problem with that?
Hunter: I might, sir.
Anderson: I have known Captain Ramsey for almost 30 years. We've served together on more than a few occasions. If he is lying, this will be the first I've heard of it.
Hunter: Yes, sir.
Anderson: My primary concern here is the breakdown in the system. In this instance, the system failed because the two senior officers did not work to resolve their differences while preserving the chain of command. Now you may have been proven right Mr Hunter, but in so far as the letter of the law is concerned, you were both right - and you were also both wrong. This is the dilemma that will occupy this panel, this Navy, and this country's armed forces as a whole long after you leave this room. Off the record, you've both created one hell of a mess. A mutiny aboard a United States nuclear submarine. Violation of nuclear launch protocol. For the record, it is the conclusion of this panel that your actions aboard the Alabama were consistent with the best traditions of the Navy and in the interests of the United States. As such, the recommendations of this panel will be to accept, in a manner reflective of his long and dedicated service to his country, Captain Ramsey's request for early retirement from active duty and, based in no small part on Captain Ramsey's recommendation, that Lieutenant Commander Hunter be given his next command at the earliest possible convenience. Unless of course, you wish to challenge these recommendations.
Hunter: No, sir.
Anderson: Captain Ramsey?
Capt Ramsey: No, sir.
Anderson: Dismissed.


  • Danger runs deep.
  • In the face of the ultimate nuclear showdown, one man has absolute power and one man will do anything to stop him.
  • On the brink of nuclear war, two men clash over the fate of the world.


External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about: