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Fridge / Crimson Tide

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  • Fridge Brilliance: The discussion that Captain Ramsey and Commander Hunter have about the Lipizzaner stallions seemed like a weird moment, until you go back and listen to what they're saying and realize that it's a perfect parallel to the situation. Both Ramsey and Hunter are correct in some aspects of the stallions that the other side didn't know, and both make mistakes that are either pointed out or ignored. Similarly, Ramsey and Hunter's actions were both right in some respects (Hunter being unwilling to launch without a confirmed message, Ramsey being right that the information he had was enough to justify the act) and wrong in others (Ramsey attempting to circumvent the launch protocol, Hunter for disobeying what seemed to be a lawful order). In the end, Ramsey's admission that the Lipizzaner's are from Spain seems to also indicate his admission that he was wrong to try and launch the missiles.
    • It's worth noting that said discussion was one of the polishes to the script supplied by Quentin Tarantino (and apparently, Tony Scott's favourite of the additions). Quentin's trademark is long stretches of dialogue that seem to have nothing to do with the situation, but often turn out to connect in some way, after all.
    • There is also the uncomfortable allusions to racism, what with Hunter and Ramsey's disagreement to the color of the stallions (black or white), which relates to one of the unspoken but almost visible tensions between Ramsey (the old school, politically-incorrect white guy) and Hunter (the modern, overachieving black man). This is on top of the strange coincidence that the black protagonist is on board a boat called the Alabama.
      • It also seems misplaced here. The disagreement Hunter and Ramsay have here is pretty profound drama. This exact situation could have occurred if Hunter and Ramsay were the same race. I took it as Ramsay trying to ruffle Hunter’s feathers.
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    • The marked difference in command philosophies is best explained by a comment Ramsey makes. He says "In my day War College was metallurgy and nuclear reactors, not 19th-century philosophy." Ramsey also states "Rickover gave me my command." The person he was referring to was Admiral Hyman G Rickover aka "The Father of the Modern Nuclear Navy". Rickover was known to be scrupulous to the point of compulsiveness about nuclear safety, so one couldn't qualify for submarine command under him, without an expert level knowledge of nuclear physics. Therefore, it is natural that Rickover's hand picked submarine skippers might have been trained in nuclear power plant operation and safety protocol at the expense of philosophy and ethics of warfare, since the navy doesn't have an unlimited training budget. However, Rickover was forced to retire in 1982, and with that ended his firm control over navy submarine operation doctrine. Hunter got a senior officer education that is more mainstream.
      • This also explains why Ramsey was willing to run a weapons drill just as a firefighting evolution was about to end. That expert level training in nuclear reactors reassured him that the ship wasn't in any physical danger. However, his lack of training in philosophy and politics, which includes a lot of studies about the human condition and human reactions to situations, made him ignore the potential hit to crew morale from running such a drill.
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    • There's also another small but succinct example of their differences at the end of the movie during the "three minutes" climax. Ramsey uses an old analogue stopwatch. Hunter has a digital watch.
  • Fridge Horror: The fire that broke out in the galley could have had some extremely serious consequences had it not been properly contained. A fire onboard a ship is bad enough, since there is nowhere to run from it, one on a submarine is worse, due to the cramped quarters and the fire feeding on a limited supply of oxygen. On a nuclear submarine, it is escalated further due to safety protocols normally requiring a reactor shut down, and thereby starving the crew off air scrubbers, lighting etc. On a missile sub, that fire may inadvertently provoke a nuclear war by forcing the submarine to surface in order to save the crew from oxygen deprivation. Because missile subs reach surface depth in international waters for one reason and one reason only - to launch.
    • Not sure about other navies, but US missile subs, including the one in the movie, don't or at least don't need to surface to launch. Launch depth is at 150 ft.
      • No American SSBN has ever needed surface to launch its ICBMs. Even the first-generation George Washington-class that entered service in 1959 were capable of submerged launch. The old Regulus-I strategic nuclear cruise missile of the mid-1950s was the strategic deterrent missile that needed to be fired on the surface; it was for precisely that reason that it was replaced by the UGM-27 Polaris ICBM (which was then replaced by the UGM-73 Poseidon, which was in turn replaced by the UGM-96 carried by the Ohio-class). The first-gen Soviet SSBs/SSBNs (the Golf-I and Hotel-I classes of the 1960s, respectively) needed to surface in order to launch, but they were replaced by/upgraded into boats that could launch submerged. Surfacing would break stealth (which is bad), but nothing more.
  • Fridge Logic: The decision to use an SSBN to knock down the rebel missile silos. The Tridents are pretty fast but it would have been far safer, easier, and probably quicker to just park a carrier battle group or three off the peninsula the moment the saber-rattling began...there was some warning between the rebel takeover and launch code compromise. Even a fleet of Akula attack subs would have had major difficulty penetrating that, and a flight of Tomahawks or an F18/A sortie would just as effectively destroy the silos with a lot less...fallout.
    • If we're dealing with freestanding missiles, this would be correct. If we're talking about hardened missile silos there's a pretty good chance that conventional bombs would be ineffective. When something is designed to survive anything short of a direct hit from a nuclear bomb, its not going to be knocked out by a standard bunker buster.
      • Stealth bomber loaded with a nuclear earth penetrator. Hardened sites as described above are precisely what this combo was intended for use on.
    • The choice of an SLBM launch would have been because of the short time frame (one hour) from fuelling to launch. A submarine fired depressed launch trajectory from the patrol sector in the North Pacific where the Alabama was would have been the fastest response possible. An continental US ICBM launch may have taken upwards of an hour to reach the target. The sub launch could have hit targets in less than 10. Assuming what was required was a 'simply' nuclear weapon, the sub was the best option. Other options would have taken more time or required penetration of Russian airspace.

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