Down Periscope

1996 film by David S. Ward

Down Periscope is a 1996 comedy film starring Kelsey Grammer as the captain of a rust-bucket submarine (called the USS Stingray) who is fighting for his career. Rob Schneider provides comic support as the uptight executive officer, and Lauren Holly as the Navy's first female submarine officer.

Directed by David S. Ward. Written by Hugh Wilson, Andrew Kurtzman, and Eliot Wald.
A rusty sub. A rebel commander. A renegade crew. When destiny called, they should have hung up.
Well done, guys. She may not be the youngest girl at the ball... but she'll turn a head or two. If she drives as well as she looks, we may even survive!
One rebel diesel, against the U.S. nuclear Navy.
"Think like a pirate! I want a man with a tattoo on his dick! Have I got the right man?"
"By a strange coincidence, you do, sir."
I can't make you any guarantees, Dodge. But this is what I'll do. I'll give you two live torpedoes, set a dummy in Norfolk harbor. If I see that baby go up, then we'll talk about your boat.

Lieutenant Commander Tom Dodge

  • [Hitting a golf ball off a submarine's deck] Oh get up there, you miserable little puke!
  • [Meeting the Stingray's crew for the first time] Nice pants. Lose the cigar. Oh, you better burn that shirt, sailor. [Under his breath] It's the crew from Hell.
  • [After the Stingray's overhaul] Well done, guys. She may not be the youngest girl at the ball... but she'll turn a head or two. If she drives as well as she looks, we may even survive!
  • Alright, gentlemen. Let's kick this pig!
  • [repeated line] God, I love this job!

Rear Admiral Yancy Graham

  • [Objecting at a meeting of flag officers regarding Dodge's command] There is physical evidence that, as an ensign, he did become so physically intoxicated that he not only allowed himself to be tattooed, but tattooed on his genitalia. Now, call me a prude if you want, but I don't think it's good policy for the Navy to hand over a billion-dollar piece of equipment to a man who has "Welcome Aboard" tattooed on his penis!
  • [About to finally catch Dodge in the wargame] I've got you now, Popeye.


  • CDR Carl Knox: [Catching Dodge hitting golf balls off the submarine deck] Oh, what the heck! Why don't we pull in so you can putt out!
  • EM "Mike" Nitro: [testing wires] 1B, cold. 1C...[wire sparks a big flash] ...Hot!
  • EM "Mike" Nitro: Radio's working like a
  • CPO Howard: Okay, boys. Down we go...ah, ha-ha-ha.
  • CPO Howard: [Tapes a string tight across the engine room as the Stingray does a deep dive] Now, keep an eye on that string. 'Cause the water pressure's gonna squeeze the hull of this boat like an empty beer can. [cackles]
  • ST2C E.T. "Sonar" Lovacelli: Approaching the bottom, sir. I can hear a couple of lobsters duking it out.
  • LT Emily Lake: Balls to the walls, boys!


[aboard a launch at Naval Station Norfolk]
RADM Yancy Graham: It's good to see you again, Dodge. Been about four years.
LCDR Tom Dodge: Something like that, sir; not since we were both at Kings Bay.
Graham: Well, you're about to join the elite of the submarine service. The best the U.S. Navy has to offer.
Dodge: Damn good feeling, sir.
Graham: As a matter of fact, there she is right now: your new boat. [Dodge turns to look; a rusty old submarine is tied up at the pier.] USS Stingray, SS-161.
Dodge: [Horrified] That! This can't be my boat, sir.
Graham: Well, it most certainly is. Balao-class, refitted 1958.
Dodge: Balao-class?! But that's a diesel sub! This is a joke, right? The Navy doesn't even use diesels anymore!
Graham: They do now; she's been recommissioned.
Dodge: Well, no disrespect to the USS Rust-Oleum here, but I'd be better off in the Merrimac! I was trained to command a nuclear boat!
Graham: Are you refusing to take command?
Dodge: ...No, sir.
Graham: Good. You'll meet your crew here tomorrow morning, at 0700.
Dodge: [Sarcastic] They also left over from World War II, sir?
Graham: No, Captain. They've been hand-picked. By me.

[Dodge visits Winslow after being given command of the Stingray]
LCDR Tom Dodge: Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Admiral Winslow.
VADM Dean Winslow: Certainly, Captain. Take a seat. [Both sit] So, how do you like your boat?
Dodge: It's a complete piece of...[pauses at Winslow's stern look] antiquated equipment, sir. Sir, I have dedicated the better part of my life to getting my own boat. I was wondering why the Navy chose to embarrass me in this way.
Winslow: No embarrassment intended, Captain; you've been chosen for a specific mission.
Dodge: To turn her into a museum, sir? "The Wonderful World of Corrosion"?
Winslow: Hardly. [Hands Dodge a 'Classified' folder, with reconnaissance photos inside.] Here are some recent satellite photos of the Russian Naval bases at Petropavlovsk and Vladivostok. That's where the Russians have got their diesel sub fleet. They're docked there. But each week, there are fewer, cause they're sellin' 'em off like hotcakes; to countries like Iran, Iraq and Libya, to name a few.
Dodge: With all due respect, sir, one American nuclear attack sub could defeat several diesels.
Winslow: In a conventional battle, certainly, that's true. But what if you had one renegade diesel captain, decided to hit us - bam - suddenly, without cause or warning, like a terrorist intent on getting a nuclear warhead into one of our harbors. You think we could catch and kill a bogey like that in time?
Dodge: Absolutely, sir.
Winslow: Well, the Department of Defense and most of the Admiralty, they would agree with you. But me, personally? I'd like to know for sure. And that's why you're gonna clean up the Stingray and take her out, off the Atlantic coast, for a series of wargames. One rebel diesel against the U.S. nuclear Navy. Come on. [Shows Dodge a map] First, you're going to attempt to invade Charleston harbor. And if you're good enough to evade further pursuit, you'll attempt to sink shipping right here at the naval base in Norfolk. Simulated, of course. What do you think, Mr. Dodge?
Dodge: I think I'm gonna get my ass kicked, sir.
Winslow: [irritated at Dodge's pessimism] Aw, don't think like that! Damn it to hell, don't go by the book! Think like a pirate! I want a man with a tattoo on his dick! Have I got the right man?
Dodge: By a strange coincidence, you do, sir. However, the task I have been handed here is close to impossible. If I pull this off - that is, get both ports - I would like command of my own nuclear sub.
Winslow: Setting terms, now?
Dodge: No, sir. But without a command, once this exercise is over, I'm headed for a desk job, which means I'm out of the Navy.
Winslow: I can't make you any guarantees, Dodge. But this is what I'll do. I'll give you two live torpedoes, set a dummy ship in Norfolk harbor. If I see that baby go up, then we'll talk about your boat.
Dodge: Thank you, sir.

[During the Stingray crew's roll call...]
LT Martin Pascal: Engineman First Class Brad Stepanek!
EN1 Brad Stepanek: [looks at Dodge, unimpressed] Sit on it and rotate, sir.
Pascal: WHAT?! What did you say, sailor?! You can't say that! [to Dodge] He can't say that!
Dodge: Pascal, down! Down! Heel!
Stepanek: By the Uniform Code of Military Justice, that constitutes gross insubordination, punishable by one month in the brig. [holds out his arms, as if for handcuffs] I'm ready to go, sir.
Dodge: Board the boat. I like a challenge.
Stepanek: You'll throw me off within a week. I'm a dedicated pain in the butt, sir.
[Dodge steps closer and speaks quietly]
Dodge: Stepanek...
Stepanek: What?
Dodge: If I throw you off, it'll be in the middle of the Atlantic. [beat] Board the damn boat.
Stepanek: Aw, man... [shoulders his kit bag and goes aboard] What's our mission, rescue Gilligan?
Dodge: Ha! I love this job! And who's our next contestant?

[The crew of the Stingray are cleaning, repairing, and overhauling her. On deck, as the rest of the crew is working, Dodge sees Stepanek on a lawn chair, sunning himself]
Dodge: Stepanek, what are you doing?
Stepanek: As little as possible, sir. I'm a detriment to the entire operation; total morale-crusher.
Dodge: You know, of course, that the submarine service is entirely volunteer. All you have to do is quit.
Stepanek: My old man won't let me. [mockingly] He's an admiral! Thinks sub duty will shape me up. Hah!
Dodge: Well, then, I'm afraid you leave me no choice, son, but to relocate you.
Stepanek: Really?
Dodge: Really. Buckman!
Buckman: Yes, sir! [Turns at attention, hitting Stepanek with an armful of mops he's carrying, knocking Stepanek off his lawn chair and into a trough of oil waste]
Dodge: Thank you, Buckman. That'll be all.

[Pascal inspects the Stingray and arrives in the galley]
Pascal: BUCKMAN! [Buckman turns around with a start] What the hell are you doing?!
Seaman Buckman: Stocking the pantry, sir!
Pascal: You forgot like an idiot, Buckman, because you're stocking the pantry like an idiot! [grabs two cans from the shelves] What are in these cans, Buckman?!
Buckman: That one's coffee. That one looks like cooking lard, sir.
Pascal: And which one do you think we're gonna be using more often, sailor? The coffee, or the lard?! You think we're all gonna jump out of bed in the morning and have a big, hot, steaming cup of pig fat?!
Buckman: Well, it depends. If it's a cold morning, sir, you might go either way --
Pascal: [turning to hurl cans from the pantry] The lard... is in... your head, Buckman! [grabs Buckman by the ear, as Dodge enters behind him] Now you take a look at that galley chart, 'cause I want that cabinet repacked, regulation style, by eleven hundred! Do you know what time eleven hundred is?!
Buckman: That would be after ten hundred, sir!
Dodge: Marty.
Pascal: WHAT?! [turns and sees it's Dodge, becomes much quieter] Sir?
Dodge: Can we speak? My cabin.
Pascal: [To Buckman, after a big inhale] Carry on.
[Pascal leaves and goes into Dodge's cabin]
Dodge: Marty, I'm a little worried about your health. Not exactly a people person, are you? I'm afraid you're headed straight for an ulcer if you can't ease up a little bit.
Pascal: I'm-I'm not happy with this boat, sir. Requesting...permission...for a transfer.
Dodge: What?
Pascal: Commander, this-this boat... it's a rustbucket! It's a shitbox! And this crew is the most incompetent bunch of retards and assholes in naval history! I mean, I know why you're here, but- I don't know why I was even considered for such an assignment-
Dodge: 'Scuse me, 'scuse me. Why am I here?
Pascal: You know...your thing!
Dodge: What "thing"?
Pascal: ...The weenie tattoo.
Dodge: [laughs] Wow. Look, Pascal, I hate to disappoint you, but I may have had some other things going for me.
Pascal: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I believe you, sir. Now, about my transfer. This post could seriously jeopardize my chances for advancement. I mean, I am this close to Command, sir-
Dodge: Forget it.
Pascal: Sir?
Dodge: You think you're the only one embarrassed to be here, you think this is the command I dreamed about? Well, we're all in this mess together, mister. And you and your career are in the hands of those very assholes! Including this one. That answer your question?
Pascal: ...Yes, sir.
Dodge: Dismissed.

Pascal: Buckman! There was a fingernail in my food, you fat-ass moron! Yesterday, it was a band-aid!
Buckman: Sorry, sir. Band-aid was holdin' the fingernail on.
Pascal: What else do you put in your sauces, Buckman?!
Buckman: It's an old family recipe, sir. It's a secret.
Pascal: [inspects the galley, while Buckman greases the floor and the ladder] Oh, my God! There's cockroaches in the flour! Your cigar ash is in the spaghetti! Jesus, Buckman! This stuff's been on the Stingray since Korea! This can expired in 1966!
Buckman: [pokes finger into can and tastes sample] What's the matter, sir? It still tastes like creamed corn.
Pascal: Except- it's deviled ham!
Buckman: Now that would be a problem.
Pascal: The Captain's gonna hear about this! [turns to leave, and slips and falls on his back on the slippery floor; then rises] Nobody saw that.
Buckman: [smugly] You should be more careful, sir. Remember: when you rush, that's when accidents happen.
Pascal: Shut up, Buckman! [moves to go up the ladder, only to bang his head on every rung before collapsing to the floor]

Dodge: Alright, gentlemen, it's time to kick this pig! Leave Graham squealin' from the feelin'!
Jackson: Squeakin' from the freakin'!
Buckman: Oinkin' from the boinkin'!

[Graham, on the Orlando, radios the Stingray]
Graham: Submarine Stingray, this is Submarine Orlando. It's been confirmed: you are targeted.
Dodge: Submarine Orlando, this is Submarine Stingray, Stingray One speaking. We acknowledge the kill, and congratulate the Orlando and all the fine men on that boat.
Graham: [delighted] Well, thank you, Captain.
Dodge: However, at the moment of your transmission, I've already fired two torpedoes.
Graham: ...WHAT?
Dodge: You can probably hear them in the water, and though we are "dead", our fish are still running towards the naval station dummy ship. If they hit, we still win. [pirate voice] Har, har.

[During the Stingray‍'‍s homecoming]
Graham: Sir, this entire exercise is invalid. [gestures with his fingers] Dodge left the containment area -
Winslow: [gestures with hands pressed as if compressing something] ...after you narrowed it without proper authorization.
Graham: He ignored a direct order!
Winslow: Stow it, Yancy. He had higher orders... and you can forget about that third star. [Smiles and walks away]

[VADM Winslow receives LCDR Dodge and the Stingray crew]
Winslow: Welcome back, Captain. You certainly pushed my order to the breaking point.
Dodge: Thank you, sir. I mean, if that's a compliment.
Winslow: However, under the circumstances, I will not be able to give you your own Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine.
[a beat, as Dodge swallows his disappointment]
Dodge: Yes, sir.
Winslow: Instead, you will be given a new Seawolf-class nuclear submarine and will attend its launching on Friday! And this time, you'll be given a proper crew, one commensurate with your tactical and leadership abilities.
Dodge: Thank you, sir, but I'd have to decline.
Winslow: Decline?
Dodge: I would not be in line for such a promotion without the help of my present crew. I could not in good conscience accept another command without them.
Winslow: Still setting terms, huh, Dodge?
Dodge: Just respectfully requesting, sir.
Winslow: Well, at least you got my son to face forward. [Stepanek looks embarassed; Engineer Howard snickers]
Dodge: Your son? Stepanek, sir?
Winslow: Yes. It's his mother's name. His salute still leaves something to be desired.
Dodge: We'll work on that, sir.
Winslow: You do that, Commander. [Salutes Dodge, then sees Stepanek give a proper salute, which Winslow proudly returns]


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