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- Kurogane Pukapuka Tai, an odd mixture of Girls Love romp and World War II military action, largely avoids this trope.
- The main ship, the Imperial Japanese Navy heavy cruiser Unebi, is fictional, but plausible and explained; its operational history is based on that of real Japanese commerce raiders. It also represents a class of ship that other nations, primarily the US, actually believed at the time that Japan had.
- The German submarine U-800 is a fictional example of a real U-boat class, the IX-C, which is a feasible type to be in the Indian Ocean attacking British shipping.
- The destroyer HMS Cutlass is a fictional example of the C Class destroyer, and is obviously visually identifiable as the 1931-built class, not the 1943 and onward newer C class. However, the older C class had by then been transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy. However, the almost identical D class was still in service, and it would have worked just fine; it's quite likely the C class was just chosen instead to allow a name beginning with C.
- Super Atragon: In their effort to stuff more anti-American cliches into the show, the writers overlooked the fact that US battleships were named after states, not abstract concepts. Those are reserved for pre-Nimitz-class carriers (USS Independence) or new, headlines-worthy corvettes note , such as the USS Freedom.
- The prologue of the Heavy Object anime depicts a ballistic missile submarine (possibly meant to be an American Ohio-class) launching a nuclear missile at the first Object in a vain attempt to destroy it. Problem being that the submarine is doing this while surfaced: no sane boomer captain is going to launch from the surface if he can help it, and the first successful test of a submerged launch was done in 1960.
- The eponymous boat crewed by the protagonists in Black Lagoon is a restored and modified World War II-era 80-foot Elco PT boat. While this was the most common version, only three of that model are known to still exist, none of them operational (the majority of the PT boats to survive the war were scrapped).
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
- The trilogy is a major offender, with extensive yelling about naval maneuvers, which never accomplish anything, as all the ships continually sail in any direction in every weather with main and topsails square to the masts at all times. Bonus points for Captain Jack Sparrow yelling for adjustments to pieces of rigging his ship does not even possess: "Scandalize the lateens!" The torn and tattered sails of the Pearl and the Dutchman do not qualify, as they are both supernatural vessels.
- Along with many films featuring Wooden Ships and Iron Men, Real Life fully rigged sailing ships couldn't be turned simply by spinning the wheel like it's a Formula 1 car. There is a whole array of multi-man, complex procedures for doing so. Also bizarre is how Jack Sparrow managed to "disable the rudder chain" in The Curse of the Black Pearl - the cables (not chains) on a ship like the Dauntless would take a single man days to cut through even if he had a proper implement (which he doesn't).
- Jack Sparrow's sinking ship at the start of the first film is impossible (but awesome).
- Later on, hilariously, the Royal Navy officer says that the Dauntless "cannot be crewed by two men." Neither can the Interceptor, in reality.
- The whole Maelstrom battle in At World's End. Also, a first-rate ship of the line like the Endeavour could eat a pair of heavy frigates like the Black Pearl and Flying Dutchman for breakfast, though this is excusable given that Lord Beckett was unable to break out of his Villainous Breakdown and order his ship to attack. Also, the Dutchman is probably too supernatural to sink even with superior firepower.
- No lower-deck gun (or even a maindeck carronade) could possibly achieve the angle of elevation shown by the Black Pearl attacking Port Royal (or for that matter, any of the ships in the whirlpool battle). If you want to fire that high, you're looking at small pintle mount weapons like swivel guns, or dedicated mortars (which tended to be either little 1-3 pounder boat mortar jobbies or fitted to specially built/modified bomb ketches). Anything else would rip a hole in the deck it's mounted on with the recoil (and bomb ketches had to sit the mortar on a hold full of coiled rope to compensate).
- The Flying Dutchman's triple-guns cannot be reloaded, as cannon are muzzle-loading. Unless Davy Jones has invented breech-loading cannons. Which presents the additional problem of how the cascabel screw threads don't seize using 17th-century ironwork. Unless the guns are magical. Which presents the additional problem of why Davy Jones bothers to crew his gundecks.
- The stunt with the upturned boat in the first film would not work. While you could overturn a boat and float it across the water, you could not drag it underwater like a poor-man's submarine unless you were inhumanly strong (and heavy).
- Master and Commander manages to avoid blatant errors. This was done by using a real period naval ship, and through meticulous detail to ensuring accuracy. The biggest mistake is that the ship is actually motoring in a few shots, as indicated by the sails being pushed backwards against the mast by the wind, while the ship continues forward. Due to the nature of filming out at sea using a real ship, and the nature of well, nature, the crew simply didn't have enough time to ensure fully accurate manoeuvring while filming the ship.
- Waterworld manages to multiply the sins, by having a fore-and-aft rigged Trimaran that is powered by wind so reliable the main character felt it wise to build a giant wind turbine on his mast. Lord only knows what would happen if the wind ever went slack and the sail slumped back into the turbine.
- The Spy Who Loved Me has the Soviet submarine (a Murena/"Delta I") missing its fairwater planes.
- Pearl Harbor:
- The movie featured an impressive effects model of Battleship Row which managed to use the wrong superstructure for the U.S. battleships, despite the production crew having several hundred pictures to work from, and also hideously messed up the sinking of the Oklahoma. There are also several seriously anachronistic ships present, most obviously Spruance-Class guided missile destroyers. Then again, this is the same movie that didn't notice an M26 Pershing tank in stock footage, the Arizona Memorial visible in a movie set before it even sank, or a large building with 'Est 1952' printed on the front.
- The aircraft carriers on both sides were visibly modern designs with angled flight decks when viewed in long shots, due to the lack of "straight" deck carriers in Real Life since shortly after World War II.
- One of the Japanese intelligence photographs shows a North Carolina-class battleship. No such ship was in Pearl Harbor at the time, and indeed, the type was so new that both North Carolina and her sister ship Washington were still on the East Coast getting various issues with their engines corrected. North Carolina would not arrive in the Pacific until June 1942.
- The Queen Mary appears in the movie in her civilian paint scheme: in reality, she was painted battleship grey during the war.
- Moving the battleships 100 feet apart just so they could film cool sequences of airplanes flying between the rows while Cuba Gooding Jr. shoots at them with .50 caliber machine gun even though he also would have been shooting up the ship moored alongside.note The real Doris 'Dorie' Miller was awarded the Navy Cross and certainly deserved a better portrayal of his heroism.
- In The Sum of All Fears, an American aircraft carrier is shown sailing without active escorts and no air patrols flying, within striking range of Russian airfields during a serious international crisis. If this had happened in real life, they would deserve to get sunk.
- It is common for warships to be 'played' by other classes of ship.
- The South Dakota-class USS Alabama (BB-60, now a museum ship) has stood in for several other battleships on film, such as in the miniseries War and Remembrance and the movie Under Siege. The limited number of battleships in the world (only 9 have been preserved) means that any film not using CGI, stock footage or stage props to replicate a battleship has very limited choices. Especially since 7 of the surviving battleships are all very similar late 1930s/early 1940s designs (the North Carolina, South Dakota and Iowa classes) with identical turret layout.
- The Longest Day tried to get around this by only showing warships in silhouette, though all that did was exaggerate their anachronistic features, like post-war lattice masts.
- In any World War II movie, if you see a carrier with an angled flight deck (the catapults launch the plane forward, the landing takes place at an angle), you are seeing something built/modified after the war, which accounts for any post-World War II carrier afloat. Sadly, there are no straight-decked carriers left in the world, as attempts to get the USS Enterprise (CV-6), the most decorated warship in history, preserved as a museum ended in failure. As did attempts in the 1990s to preserve the Spanish light carrier Dédalo, formerly USS Cabot (CVL-28), the last unconverted carrier (being too small for such a conversion, Dédalo was instead used for STOVL jets and helicopters) and the last of the World War II light carriers.
- The angled deck, invented late into the war, was so much superior (as it allows the carrier to launch and receive planes simultaneously, without fearing that the landing plane would crash into the launching one at the bow) that all straight-deck carriers were either decommissioned soon after the end of hostilities, adapted into other (often non-combat) roles, or converted into the angled deck configuration, and the only straight-deck carriers that have been built since have been either purpose-built STOVL carriers (since STOVL aircraft land vertically, the issues that gave rise to the angled deck in the first place don't really exist for them) or amphibious assault warships with a secondary "sea control" (read: "light carrier") function.
- Averted, partly, in Battle of the River Plate, where the cruisers HMS Achilles and HMS Cumberland were played by the actual Achilles (by this point in Indian service as INS Delhi) and Cumberland. Then again, Graf Spee was played by USS Salem, which looked nothing like the real Graf Spee, and Cumberland was minus a turret thanks to a refit. The Real Life Graf Spee, having been sunk in the titular battle, was obviously unavailable for filming. Lampshaded when the German Captain says sometimes they even disguise themselves as an American cruiser and the captured British merchantman Captain accepts that as being why they have a number painted on the bow. This treads the line between Truth in Television and Very Loosely Based on a True Story because there are plenty of pictures of the real Admiral Graf Spee disguised as a US Navy cruiser, and at the Battle of the River Plate she really was sporting a fake extra turret (Admiral Graf Spee had only 2 real turrets while Salem has 3).
- Made worse since US Navy refused any Nazi insignia, flags, or uniforms onboard its ships. So everyone onboard Graf Spee was wearing US uniforms.
- Oddly, HMS Ajax (sister ship of Achilles) was played by the completely dissimilar HMS Sheffield instead of simply having INS Delhi portray both ships (though this would've required splicing together any scenes in which both cruisers were on screen simultaneously). And HMS Exeter was in an even bigger mismatch played by HMS Jamaica, meaning that in the film "Ajax" was larger than "Exeter", when the opposite was true of the real ships. Cumberland actually would've been ideal for portraying her near-sister Exeter since removing one of her turrets (as mentioned above) actually made her look extremely similar to Exeter.
- U571 wasn't much more accurate in its ship displays than its accuracy to historical events. One of the more glaring errors is how roomy the captured U-Boat is. Compare this to "Das Boot" in which even the officers having dinner are required to stand up and stuff themselves into a corner whenever someone needs to get through.
- Mostly averted in Das Boot which in fact is praised for its realism of portraying how would be to live in a WWII Uboat. However, there're a few errors, most notably the film taking place in December 1941, when things were going much better for the Kriegsmarine than later in the war (1943 onwards).
- Avoided entirely in The Caine Mutiny, which replaced the novel's four-piper destroyer-minesweeper conversion with a Gleaves-class conversion. The only problem is that this leaves a few comments about the Caine being a rusty old tub sounding slightly odd, since she would've been less than five years old during the Pacific campaign.
- And sometimes, you just can't win: the production crew of the John Wayne/Kirk Douglas film In Harm's Way went to a lot of trouble to avoid this by using models for the battle scenes, but sadly they only sailed straight into another trope.
- USS Ranger, being among the last of the non-nuclear-powered aircraft carriers until her decommissioning in 1993, was often used by the Navy for filming movies for precisely this reason — not only were her internal spaces not classified, but she was a lower-priority operational unit and was thus available more for filming. USS Ranger appears in:
- In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, with the Enterprise crew members are even wearing USS Ranger ball caps. In addition to reactor spaces being classified, the actual Enterprise was out to sea at the time of filming.
- Top Gun
- Flight of the Intruder, although here it makes sense, since the Ranger and Independence were sister ships of the same class, with only slight differences in appearance.
- The Hunt for Red October:
- Although the frigate Reuben James was being played by the Real Life Reuben James (FFG-57), the latter wasn't commissioned until two years after the film's setting. Possibly, however, a Shout-Out to Red Storm Rising, which had Perry-class "figs" in service in 1984.
- During one scene a torpedo is dropped by a helicopter on a submarine, but then remotely detonated by the helicopter's mothership prior to impact in order to fake the destruction of the sub. This is in reality impossible. The torpedo depicted in the movie is a US Mk 46, and once you have put one in the water—assuming it's working correctly—it will search for and then chase after its target until it either detonates or runs out of fuel.
- The film portrays the caterpillar drive as making the submarine ultra-quiet because the propellor isn't moving. In reality a nuclear submarine's biggest noise source are the cooling pumps on the reactor. In real life a diesel-electric sub is far quieter, with the tradeoff being a reduced underwater operating duration.
- The climax of the film involves members of the USS Dallas transferring over to the Red October, then successfully crewing it during an attack from a Soviet submarine. All this in spite of the fact that the crew is operating a sub on which they've never seen before, have no training on, the language is completely foreign and even the measurements (metric vs. imperial) are different.
- Although much of it was filmed aboard the actual USS Nimitz, with the participation of many of that carrier's crew, the scene in The Final Countdown that showed the carrier sailing into Pearl Harbor, in the present, showed USS Kitty Hawk, as at the time the movie was filmed, the Nimitz was part of the Atlantic fleet. On the plus side, funnel aside the Kitty Hawk and Nimitz classes are fairly close in silhouette and flight deck layout.
- Fictional depictions of RMS Titanic have something of a mixed history in regards to accuracy to Real Life.
- In Titanic (1997), at first it appears that the production crew managed to get port and starboardnote mixed up, but in this case the writers and directors got it right and the audience didn't. At that time, crews and vessels (at least British merchant ships) were still under what are known as "Tiller Commands," which in fact reverses the directions: whereas today it's "Hard To Starboard = Bear Right" and "Hard to Port = Bear Left," using tiller commands it would be "Hard to Port = Bear Right" and "Hard to Starboard = Bear Left."
- SOS Titanic has the deck scenes filmed on the Queen Mary, with no attempt to disguise the Cunard Line's distinct differences to the designs of White Star Line ships.
- The 1953 Titanic film didn't even try to be accurate with the ship's interiors, relying on a stock "luxury ocean liner" setting.
- The 1996 miniseries Titanic (1996) made many, many errors in the design of the ship. The exterior sets have no resemblance to the actual layout, the Grand Staircase has a chandelier instead of its famous dome, and there is a two-story tea room even though there was no room for such a structure.
- Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. Stock Footage of an Iowa-class battleship is identified as a destroyer. The rest of the movie is equally ridiculous. The title does, after all, give a good indication of what type of movie it is.
- Most of the ships in the Kamikaze movie For Those we Love only exist in the FX computers. However there are a number of action and beauty shots of what is recognizably an American Destroyer Escort. Much of the filming was in the Philippines and apparently the crew were able to use the Philippine flagship BRP Rajah Humabon (Ex Cannon-class, USS Atherton, later Naval SDF Hatsuhi). Even better, it still carries its WWII-era 3 inch, 40mm, and 20mm mounts. The only jarring part is the lack of deck clutter near the stern (the depth charges are long gone).
- The production crew seem to think that a 50,000 ton warship can perform handbrake turns.
- Apparently a museum ship can be brought up to fighting condition in under a few hours, complete with fuel and ammunition. The USS Iowa took 2 years to recommission in 1980's.
- Firing 16 inch guns like AK-47s in semi-automatic, at least 4 times in 10 seconds.note Made even more unrealistic by the fact the ship is crewed by current Navy sailors, who would be entirely unfamiliar with a battleship's weapons, and retired sailors, who even if they remembered their training, are too few and 60+ years removed from their sailing days.
- At one point the crew needs to move a shell by hand from one turret to another and though straining, five of them are able to do so. An actual 16" shell weighs 2,700 pounds (1,225kg, or 1.35 tons), even presuming they could lift and carry such a weight, there is no way they would be able to fit it through the corridors and into another turret.
- The grenades launched by the alien vessel blowing up a turret and leaving the rest of the vessel intact. While the turrets themselves could be (and with other real-life ships such as Seydlitz, were) safely destroyed, said grenades land on the deck around the turret and thus also wreck the barbette (the circular part underneath) in the process. Not only is the barbette a major structural component of the ship, the explosion would have almost certainly cooked off any remaining ammunition, either of which would have been far more destructive than what is shown.
- The Real Life John Paul Jones is the third ship in the Arleigh Burke Class of Destroyers, which means she is a Flight 1. Flight 1s have a helipad, but lack a hangar. USS Sampson (which was destroyed) is a Flight 2A. These models HAVE a hangar. However, someone in the film studio seemed to think that all Burkes have hangars, which would be excusable if the ship and hull number were fictional, but USS John Paul Jones is one of the better known of the destroyer fleet, and there are hundreds of photos to reference from.
- Under Siege:
- The main guns of USS Missouri are loaded and fired by a crew of maybe 10 sailors who were not specialist artillerymen. It took 47 highly trained men for each gun's machinery (charge hoists, shell hoists, gun laying, firing) during World War II.
- The 16 inch gun fires at a distant target as small as a surfaced submarine in the night, supposedly under turret-rangefinder control. The sub would be nearly-invisible in Real Life, to score a hit in wartime conditions it needed complex calculations using data from radar plotting, main rangefinder plotting, a specific charge for the gun and so on. This assuming the gun can depress enough to fire at such a close target. Effects of the gun firing are downplayed as well, in Real Life the muzzle flame of a capital ship gun was at least 20 yards long and the water splash nearly the size of a 10 story building. Here◊ is an overhead view of the USS Iowa firing a broadside for comparison.
- The HMS Agincourt, a WWI era Dreadnought armed with a whopping fourteen 12" guns in seven twin turrets (no other battleship ever built had more than twelve guns of that size or larger), provides another example of what firing a broadside looks like: "the resulting sheet of flame was big enough to create the impression that a battle cruiser had blown up; it was awe inspiring."note
- Real Life space inside turret was far more◊ cramped◊.
- PT-109. Since there were no surviving examples when the film was made in 1963 the PT boats in the movie were actually 88 foot Air/Sea rescue boats heavily modified to resemble wartime 80 foot Elcos.
- They Were Expendable, the fictionalized story of MTB Squadron 3 in the Philipines at the start of the war. MTB Squadron 3's boats were PT-20 class 77 foot Elcos, but were portrayed in the movie by PT-103 class 80 foot Elcos. The same class boats as JFK's PT-109 mentioned above.
- Three aircraft carriers were used shooting Godzilla (2014), none of them the USS Saratoga as the movie says, because the real Saratoga was decommissioned in 1994, making it safe from bragging by current sailors. The hull number on the Saratoga is CVN-88, which isn't even being planned yet (the highest hull number assigned to any carrier as of 2017 is the not yet named CVN-81, not scheduled to enter service until 2030), so go with Alternate History again on this.
- In the 1982 Australian/Taiwanese movie Attack Force Z, the World War II commando unit is deployed from an Oberon-class submarine. You don't have to be a naval buff to notice this either, given the straight sail and lack of a deck gun on the Cold War-era sub.
- The Taiwanese navy actually had (and has) a number of WWII-era submarines in service at the time. Unfortunately, they were heavily-modified GUPPY boats, and it's likely the filmmakers simply couldn't get permission from the Taiwanese government.
- Any submarine that flipped upside down, as depicted in The Navigator, would not right itself but would go straight to the bottom, guaranteed.
- The climax of Down Periscope involves the USS Stingray, a recommissioned World War II-era diesel sub, attempting to make a suicide run at Naval Station Norfolk as part of a war game, while being chased by the USS Orlando (a Los Angeles-class nuclear sub). With their stealth gone, Lieutenant Commander Dodge orders the Stingray to surface and gun the engines. Rear Admiral Graham, in temporary command of the Orlando, orders his sub to surface as well in order to get close (using Stock Footage from The Hunt for Red October). The problem with this is that, while it makes perfect sense for a WWII diesel sub to surface to move faster, it makes no sense for a modern nuclear sub to do the samenote , since this actually reduces the Orlando's speed. The Orlando should've stayed at periscope depth in order to maximize her speed.
- Independence Day features a submarine operating in the Persian Gulf while surfaced. First, a US Navy submarine would not be surfaced while patrolling close to a hostile country. Second, the Gulf is nowhere near deep enough for a submarine to operate (it's 90 meters at its deepest point).
- 'Tora! Tora! Tora! partly averted this trope, by constructing an accurate full-scale mockup of the main deck and superstructure of the battleship Nagato, and another of the rear main deck and after turrets of the USS Arizona (doubling in some scenes as the Nevada). However, the carrier Enterprise was played by the USS Yorktown, a later, larger carrier which had been rebuilt in the 1950s with an angled flight deck and other modifications for operating jet aircraft. Moreover, the actual destroyer Ward was an old four-piper from 1918, nothing at all like the 1943 Edsall-class DE that portrayed her.
- Discussed in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when the narration points out the logic of having the ship's galley in the bow. In a motor-powered ship such as readers might be familiar with, engine smoke trails behind a fast-moving vessel regardless of wind direction, but sailed watercraft normally move with, and more slowly than, the wind. If the galley were in back, smoke from the ovens would flow forward onto the deck.
- There was an illustration in a Robert Lawson book which pictured a 3-masted ship, all the sails full of wind, with flapping flags facing the wrong direction (i.e, flags were pointing to the stern). The flags and the sails are affected by the same wind, and so the flags should be pointing more or less toward the bow.
- The Hunting of the Snark had fun with this - see "Fit the Second".
- John Winton's novel Aircraft Carrier:
- Combined with Just Plane Wrong: the fictitious HMS Furious (probably based on the real HMS Hermes) defends itself against enemy missile attacks with 60s-vintage Seacat missiles (good in their day, but by no means an adequate anti-missile defense even in the 1980s) and 40mm Bofors guns (only an adequate anti-missile defense if Lady Luck is at the controls) while the Sea Harriers of its air group carry AMRAAM missiles. By the time AMRAAM was available to the Fleet Air Arm, 20mm Phalanx anti-missile guns and the much superior Seawolf point defense missile would have been available to a fictitious aircraft carrier.
- The aviation blunder has the ship's air group sacrifice itself by going out to tackle an incoming bombing raid and then being unable to land back on the carrier due to rough weather, whereas in fact the Harrier, of all aircraft, is best suited to doing this (the pilots elect to eject and be picked out of the sea, and drown to a man instead; the author appears to have done this for dramatic effect, in order to make the carrier's gun and missile fit the only thing that was still defending the convoy).
- Downplayed elsewhere in the same novel, when the fires on the ship are licking at the walls of the missile magazines. The captain orders them flooded to prevent the ship from exploding, despite the fact that there are still men inside. This has been done in the World Wars, and would be done again if necessary. Whether the missiles would survive the dunking is another matter.
- Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series is both played straight and averted. The bulk of the named ships, especially the World War II-era ones, never served in said war despite clearly taking part in the battle of the Java sea and later engagements in the book. However, wherever else possible, the series is brutally accurate with very few licenses in regards to the ships and their operations wherever possible. The changes made are intentional: the author did not want to disrespect sailors killed in combat by using a ship that participated in the war. (Mahan and Amagi for instance were decommissioned and scrapped before the second world war, while Walker was scuttled seventeen days after Pearl Harbor.)
- Invoked In-Universe in the second novel of the X-Wing Series. The Rogues find a freighter named Pride of Contruum's Pride. Lt Cracken, a native of Contruum, takes one look at its IFF and declares that it's hostile: Due to the naming conventions for spaceships on Contruum, if it had really been part of their merchant marine, Pride would have been named for an animal or a river, not a virtue, something that was restricted for warships.
- Discussed in Jane Austen's Persuasion. The protagonist, Anne, finds Admiral Croft bemusedly looking at a painting in the window of a print shop. When she approaches him he asks "What queer fellows your fine painters must be, to think that anybody would venture their lives in such a shapeless old cockleshell as that?" and declares "I would not venture over a horsepond in it." He goes on quite a bit about it, not at all like a modern day geek ranting about their particular area of interest.
Live Action TV
- 10.5 Apocalypse seems to think the standard method of approaching a tsunami in an ocean liner is to have the wave broadside the ship, and that it's apparently unusual that this didn't work. In reality, facing into the wave is the only chance you have at either riding over the top of the wave if you're at a sufficient distance from land, as seen here with this Japanese Coastguard ship in 2011), or being carried by the wave into land without capsizing and being torn to pieces by the tsunami, as seen with this boat, which managed to rest relatively intact on top of a building because it was washed straight ahead by the rising water.
- Doctor Who:
- In the episode "World War Three", a Trafalgar class attack submarine was depicted with Trident nuclear missiles, found only on ballistic missile submarines in Real Life.
- In "Cold War", the Soviet nuclear submarine Firebird, despite looking like a Murena-M class (Delta-II class) missile sub, seems to be far more massive. For comparison, the more modern Akula (Typhoon) class is larger than a Delta-II, and yet the protagonists are dwarfed by the conning tower when standing on the bridge in the epilogue of the episode. This is not something anyone was at risk of with a Typhoon.
- Airwolf features a "Delta III" submarine with vertical launched SAMs. Which just happen to look like US Polaris ballistic missiles. Between shots it turns into a US Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine. The submarines look completely different, with different functions. The "Delta III" doesn't even carry surface-to-air missiles.
- In Once Upon a Time, Captain Hook starts out in flashbacks with a sizable crew for his brig, the Jolly Roger. In the "present day" portions, he continues to sail around single-handedly on the same ship, somehow managing to control multiple sails on two masts just by standing at the helm.
- H.R. Pufnstuf's intro includes an especially severe example. A sailboat is scudding along on a broad reach, sails properly filled and trimmed, then when Witchiepoo dispels her illusion, the boat turns sinister, the weather turns dark, and the boat is now "sailing" directly into the wind.
- JAG: In "Cowboys & Cossacks", the exterior of the Russian destroyer is actually stock footage of a British Type 42 destroyer.
- Most US Navy vessels on the show, other than decommissioned ones or historic references, have fictional names. This may have been intentional. They usually also have either fictional hull numbers, or ones that are shared by a real ship with a different name (hull numbers are never reused in the US Navy). The fictional names also rarely conform with standard US Navy naming conventions (though even in real life, the US Navy doesn't always follow its own naming conventions). All of these issues carried over to NCIS, which even has some of the same fictional ships that appeared in JAG.
- Generally The Last Ship is alright with its portrayal of naval warships, but in "Two Sailors Walk into a Bar", the aft deck of what is supposed to be a Kirov-class guided missile battlecruiser has a prominent turret with three large guns. This is because, lacking a proper Kirov to film on, that scene was filmed on the USS Iowa.
- The History Channel loves World War 2 documentaries. One such is The World Wars. The final episode of this mini-series features on the outbreak of war in the Pacific in 1941. Careful examination of the war footage reveals some use of Stock Footage from recent war films. It also features footage of aircraft carriers and a carrier battle group. Modern, early 21st century aircraft carriers and support ships. Also seen is footage of a modern Japanese Aegis class ship. Guess they figured they didn't have enough of the kinds of footage they wanted, so the went and found or filmed footage of similar-looking ships.
- Season 3 of Peaky Blinders features a brief shot of a Cunard Line ship docked in Liverpool◊. Likely meant to be the RMS Mauritania◊, the CGI model appears to be the hull and superstructure of the RMS Titanic◊ with the vents, forecastle, and colors of the Mauritania added.
- In the intro of Running Wild's "Under Jolly Roger", it only takes seconds for the pirate crew to man and fire their cannons after spotting a ship.
- In the song Highwayman by The Highwaymen, the protagonist describes being a sailor on a schooner that sailed around the Cape Horn to Mexico and how he went aloft to furl a mainsail in a storm, and he got killed when the yards broke off. This is all bogus. Schooners were coastal vessels and not well suited for rounding Cape Horn, they have fore-and-aft rig, their mainsails are reefed from the deck, and they have no yards as they do not have square sails. A fore-and-aft rigged ship whose mainsail is furled aloft on a yard is not a schooner but a brigantine or a barkentine.
- There are a fair number of older Harpoon scenarios that pit a Soviet carrier group against an American one. The actual Soviet use of the "Kiev"(armed with really shitty Yak-38 jump jets) and "Moskva" (which actually was a helicopter carrier) classes were to defend areas for missile submarines, not engage in a suicidal tangle against a Nimitz group, unless the latter got close to the Soviet mainland. If the Soviets were going to take on a U.S. CBG (Carrier Battle Group), they'd use submarines and/or land-based aircraft. Even then, the Motherland would lose a lot of units in the process. Harpoon predates the current ubiquitousness of AEGIS ships in the USN, meaning there was a greatly increased risk of the heartstopping "SS-N-12 SANDBOX detected. METHOD: Visual" happening. This did not stay true for long after the game's release though.
- Invoked in Munchkin Booty - several of the level up cards depict the characters entangled in ropes, with the card name describing what they are doing: "careen the futtock-shrouds," "splice the forecastle" and "belay the aft topgallants". None of these make any degree of sense.
- Some players of Pirates Of The Spanish Main build their models with the flag (properly called pennant) flowing backwards (although that would indicate that the ship is sailing directly into the wind) because they find it looks funny the other way around.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker takes some care to play sailing realistically: Link can quarter by turning the sail at an angle to the boat so that it catches the wind fully, and goes faster when the wind is directly behind. However, Link doesn't need to turn the rudder while doing this, can quarter at a right angle to the wind, and, by picking up speed and making a sharp turn, can sail against the wind. Since lacking these abilities would make the game immensely tedious and frustrating, this can be filed under Acceptable Breaks from Reality.
- GoldenEye (1997) was supposed to feature a La Fayette-class frigate like the movie did; the ship actually looks nothing like the La Fayette and rather more like an American Kidd-class destroyer.
- The majority of naval simulators offer far more customization than would be feasible on any Real Life design, along with the usual abstractions.
- Modern Warfare:
- The third game has one level set in New York harbor, which is an active battleground between American and Russian ships. Quite apart from the aircraft carriers, heavy cruisers, Tarantul missile corvettes, and submarines slugging it out at Napoleonic ranges, there's the whole bit about having an SSGN just offshore instead of at standoff distances, or the insanely short minimal range on those SS-N-19s.
- Modern Warfare in general is just awful about this. In the same battle, you drive over the sunken USS Nimitz (CVN-68), which is stationed in Washington state. Even worse was in 2, when the Sixth Fleet was transplanted from the Mediterranean to the Pacific.
- Pixel Piracy given that there is a ship editor in which anything can be placed anywhere. this is inevitable.
- Assassin's Creed III has Connor take command (and helm) of the Aquila, a Revolution-era frigate, despite never setting foot on a ship before. The experienced former captain of the ship becomes your Number Two and just gives out advice. The Aquila is extremely maneuverable for a frigate, and the cannons reload way too fast. Also, you can go from "no sail" to "full sail" in two seconds, with the ship immediately accelerating to that speed. There are no consequences to having all sails unfurled when sailing into the wind. This can be explained away as being a heavily abstracted and condensed reconstruction of Connor's memories by the Animus 3.0 (which is supposed to be the most realistic Animus yet).
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag falls prey to many of the same pitfalls with its increased focus on naval gameplay, but also makes the Hand Wave explicit. Abstergo is trying to make an entertaining game out of Edward Kenway's experiences, not a minutely-detailed naval simulator.
- Sid Meier's Pirates! abstracts the complicated nature of commanding an 18th-century sailing vessel down to an extremely simplified operation schema, but this is in the name of approachability and Rule of Fun—requiring players to suffer every line of rigging in combat or even day to day sailing would bog things down. Less explicable is how they developed the concept of 'ship classes,' where there are large, medium, and small varieties of a given ship type. For instance, the Pirates! version of the Barque bears little resemblance to the historical vessel type, while the Pirates! Sloop is more like a cutter.
- Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire features the Ulysses, a Steampunk submarine the size of two aircraft carriers that can dive as deep as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. In real life, submarines of that size cannot dive that deep because the high pressure underwater would cause their hulls to implode-the bigger the ship, the more pressure it has to deal with. The Ulysses would have trouble getting even that far because its steampunk engine would consume all interior oxygen if it dove underwater, and as a result the crew would all die of asphyxiation. Real-life diesel submarines exist, but ordinarily they can only use their diesel engines at or near the surface where they use a snorkel to draw in air. For completely submerged operation, most use electric engines powered by batteries, but this greatly limits their submerged range. Attempts to carry oxygen on board for a combustion engine were never really succesful, until Kockums developed AIP stirling engines.
- The Venture Bros. plays with this in "The Silent Partners". A few members of Team S.P.H.I.N.X. need to track villain Monstroso on his ocean-bound command ship, so they try to borrow a high-tech hydrofoil from Jonas Venture, Jr. The Captain tells them that the hydrofoil is decommissioned, but he can help them out by bringing his own ship out of mothballs. When we first met the Captain, he was leading a crew of "fake ghost pirates" stranded in the Sargasso Sea aboard an obsolete sailing ship, so that's what they get: a tiny "almost brigantine" named "Manny's Song" that was originally a sloop and re-rigged partly with pieces of a theme park ride. When the time comes to depart:
Captain: Avast! We set sail! [beat] Well?
Brock: What? What are we waiting for?
Captain: We have to actually set sail. Like you guys have to help me tie down those sails.
Captain: Hard full aft! Rudder astern! Jib the mainsail! Tally the sheets, ya swabs!
- Later, the Captain gets a little swept away:
Brock: What the hell does that all mean?
Captain: Nothing. Made it up. I'm just all excited to be a fake pirate again!