Navy SEAL Rates 9 Underwater Missions In Movies And TV | How Real Is It?
All right, stop right there. I have been asked about this particular scene so many times, and they want to know how we train to be able to do that. We don't. All right, there is so much stuff that is incorrect in this. What's going on? My name is Andy Stumpf. I spent just under 17 years as a US Navy SEAL, and I host the "Cleared Hot" podcast.
Today, we're going to be taking a look at some underwater action scenes from movies and seeing how real they really are. One last thing. When you hit the water, don't forget to cut away your chute.
90% of people killed during the HALO jump got tangled up in their chutes and drowned. I've never been in an underwater fight in my life with anybody or thing except for my own equipment. My belts have tried to kill me. Magnets have tried to kill me. Hoses.
Like, you end up fighting all of your gear. So that portion of the brief was legit. I've never seen anybody give an audible brief on an airplane, 'cause it's so loud that you can't hear. I am not aware of any real-world operations that started with a parachute jump of any kind that went directly into a dive. You're probably going to do a jump where you're pushing boats out of the aircraft as well.
The boat lands under its own parachute, you land next to it, you get into the boat. And you're probably going to have to travel a substantial distance to actually do the dive. Because otherwise you're flying an airplane directly over the top of where you're trying to be sneaky, and that's not how you play varsity-level hide-and-seek, right? Cutting away from your parachute before you get into the water is actually really dangerous, because at lower altitudes, it's really hard to judge how high you are up above the water. The rule that we use: Wait until your body hits the water to cut away from your equipment.
There have been people who cut away and they thought they were at 10 feet, but they were at 100 feet or 150 feet. And at some point, the surface tension of water can be like concrete, and [claps] you can kind of do the math. You don't have to use a flare.
I mean, they make flashlights. They last longer. You don't have to worry about getting burned. People would actually probably be a little bit underwhelmed with the type of diving that you do in the SEAL teams.
Not by the volume of diving, but it's very focused on getting from A to B. A lot of it is navigation to a place where you could implant a charge or a sensor, and then you're right back out. People who do this type of diving or the type of diving where they're out on coral reefs, it's just a total different experience. Most of the diving that I did was at night and at depths less than 20 feet. Not accurate at all. This is a zero.
They actually did some really robust breath-holding work for this movie. And it's easy to get a long breath hold. Like, there are people who can hold their breath for, like, five, six, seven, eight minutes. It's about the lowest level of exertion, though. You don't see people holding their breath being incredibly active, which is exactly what he was doing. [choking] The first introduction to diving for SEAL candidates is open circuit in the pool.
And I administered the test, and it would not be uncommon to watch students have a shallow-water blackout or hold their breath until they pass out. And one of the main indicators that somebody is actually about to become unconscious is that bubbles will start escaping their mouth, just like he simulated in the movie. So they actually obviously put their time in to research this.
For the cinematic aspect and the actual likelihood of this happening, we're going to give them, like, a 3. And your muscles will stop working in about 30 seconds. Nah, I'm sure it's not that fast.
Would you please listen for once? So, this apparently is occurring in the Arctic. His operational equipment consisted of a pair of board shorts and what appeared to be a messenger bag slung over his shoulder, which is a controversial choice. You spend a good portion of your time as a student in BUD/S hypothermic.
I mean, we're talking laying in the Pacific Ocean down in San Diego. Sometimes the water temperature's in the 60s. We can get you hypothermic by keeping you in there long enough, but that's a different type of cold than what was being shown in "Archer." Like, that's Arctic-water cold. Looked like he was putting a mason glass explosive charge somewhere inside of the propeller.
OK. I mean, highly improbable. The propeller itself may not be the best place to actually put a charge. Actually, when we would do ship attack, combat sweeper operations, instead of actually the propeller itself, the underside of a vessel, there's oftentimes struts and then the driveshaft that goes out to the propeller. And we would actually put the charges on the struts itself to structurally damage the ship's ability to work under its own power or navigate. If you blow up a propeller, and I'm not saying that this is like a NASCAR swap-out fix, but you can put another propeller on. If you damage the structural integrity of the ship and then the propeller shaft is then broken and they have no ability to reattach that, again, it's a fixable problem, but now we're talking probably taking the boat out of the water, putting it into a dry dock, and all of those things.
So you can get more bang for your buck. Pun intended, I suppose. How explosives are able to work underwater? A lot of them are naturally very resistant to the elements. C-4 is a good example. To get C-4 to explode, we actually use blasting caps. So that functions underwater, though, just like it would in the air.
Tough to rate a cartoon, I think, for accuracy. This is going to have to be on the lower end. I'm going to go with a 2.
And the only reason he gets a 2 is I like the homemade mason charge that he somehow wedged into the propeller. If you need to cross the river, cross the river. You know, there's no reason to actually pop up in the middle of it and give away your tactical advantage if you are trying to sneak up on somebody.
You would either cross the entire thing above the water or cross the entire thing below the water. Or go farther down or upstream and maybe find a log that's across it, so you don't have to get wet. 'Cause being wet sucks. All right, stop right there.
I have been asked about this particular scene so many times, because people absolutely love it and they want to know how we train to be able to do that. And here's the answer: we don't. Because, right, you would never fall in any other direction.
You just absolutely know the exact place and time that somebody is going to fall when you shoot them in the head, right? Because why wouldn't you? What could possibly go wrong? But you've got to remember, all of that was preceded by probably a 7.62 or a 0.300 Win Mag round snapping through the jungle. The suppressor that's on the rifle, it's basically a muffler. And it contains some of the gas, and it drastically reduces the decibel output of the rifle.
But bullets, when they fly through the air, they're supersonic, so it makes a crack. And there is subsonic ammunition, and it's much quieter. That's not what that person was shooting. The whole point of doing the charade of catching somebody and lowering them into the water as if it was just eating them into the abyss is 'cause you're trying to be sneaky. So going through all of this in attempt to be sneaky and then cracking off a round in the jungle, it defeats the entire purpose.
It's just, there's so, it's not how it works, people! Where you link up with a submarine in the middle of the ocean, that's totally plausible. They were on a Zodiac, which is going to have probably a 55- or a 35-horsepower engine. So they could easily go from a landmass over the horizon out into international water, or really wherever the sub would want to meet and do that.
So that's totally legit. Yeah. Wow. So, they obviously had direct support from the United States Navy to make this movie. And I'm actually surprised they showed very much of the SDV, which stands for SEAL Delivery Vehicle.
In essence, it is a miniature submarine. It's smaller, harder to be discovered, and you can move people and equipment a really far distance and then go back to the submarine too, 'cause you can go back and relink back up to that asset that you departed from. You are in your dive gear until that dive is over, and it can be up to 14 hours. A lot of the times you're in dry suits.
Dry and warm are two very different things that people should not confuse. They nailed it. It's very plausible that all of that would occur on an SDV operation. I'm going to give them a 10 on that.
The sniper water river catch is a zero. It actually might be a negative number. Is there a more obvious way to let somebody know that you're coming than white and orange parachutes in the daytime, jumping directly over the top of them? "Surprise! You didn't see that coming!" I've worn dive fins on my feet for a free-fall jump and actually was falling through the air with them on.
More often than not, though, the back strap of the fin, you put your feet through that, and you actually tape the fin up to your leg. But if you're going to land in the water, you're going to want to have fins on you in case you need to have the ability to swim or exert yourself. You're going to need those fins. [laughs] Yes! And they had a fleet, a full fleet of submersibles with spear guns. I am not aware of any engagement at any time in the history of human beings where anything like this has occurred. We are not trying to get into fights in the water.
Like, bottom line. We use it as a way to disguise what we're doing or to get from A to B or to be sneaky, right? Like, "Well, I don't know where they went." Like, "Bloop, here we are! We're in the water. You didn't see us, surprise!" We're not looking to get into a fight, ever.
So, no. We're not bringing tridents or spears or any of that stuff. I like how they're cutting the hoses.
Unfortunately, there is usually an inhalation hose and an exhalation hose, and they probably could still breathe if they cut the wrong one. We always had dive knives on us, but it's for cutting gear if something gets hung up. There was never a thought in my mind, ever, of pulling that out with the intent of fighting with it. It was for anything but that. Like, Phillips-head screws, using the tip of your knife, like, that's what we use dive knives for. I like the idea of what he's got in his mouth.
I'll call that the gen-one Spare Air. Which, with a canister of that size, I feel like you have about one-half of one breath. So he certainly wouldn't be able to stay underwater. And then the concussive device in the water. Concussion in the way that shock waves travel underwater is a very, very real thing.
Let's just say that was a grenade of some kind. That would probably kill the people inside of that contained area, but it probably would damage him a little bit too. Especially if there's open windows and portholes, 'cause that stuff will bounce out as well. So it's plausible, but I would say you would want to get the [beep] out of there before that thing went off.
Like, out of the water before that thing went off. I don't even know if I can give this one a technical review. So, I didn't get a good look at the gun that he shot that out of. My guess would be
probably some version of the M203 grenade launcher. The projectile doesn't have this continuous propellant, like it did in that, and it just pushes along. And people, I'm sure, want to know if you can fire guns underwater. You can fire a gun generally one time.
They're not designed to function in an environment that has that much feedback from the water. You could probably shoot a 203 underwater, but it's not going to look like that. It would probably come out of the barrel, if it even cleared the barrel, and then just drop right off. And they also arm by spinning. That's why it has a minimum arming distance, usually of 33 yards.
So there's a lot of things that were completely impossible in that particular scene right there. If you just look at how inefficient the swimming motion was. What kills a lot of your energy, there's two things.
One, they had a weapon slung around them that was very loose, and their shoes. It is so hard to swim with shoes. I think that video highlighted the difference between fins and no fins. That's what swimming looks like when you don't have fins on and you have shoes. That's why you want to have fins on top of that. If we were jumping and there wasn't going to be that much swimming, I'd go with one that had maximum flexibility, so I could tape it up and wear the thing as I was leaving the aircraft.
If I had to wear what they had on, I'd be pulling myself along the floor. I think it would be easier, and it's very positive, and you'd get more mileage for your effort. That's why you need a knife in that situation. But they weren't diving, so they didn't have their dive knives with them. However, they had a bunch of guns.
I mean, they didn't spend 5 bucks on a pocketknife? I mean, what's going on here? I'm going to give them a 3 at best. It's a stretch. They're reaching for a 3, but I'll give them a 3. I found door No. 3. And I'm taking it. Oh, that's a national treasure, all right. You know, jumping off of a, I think it was the aircraft carrier, that's probably going to be 50, 60 feet.
I'm here for that. That's definitely survivable. You could definitely do that. So, we navigated with, we call them nav boards, and we had three really exciting items on there that we used to get to stare at for hours at a time. The first one you already mentioned. Was a compass.
The next entertaining tool was a depth gauge, and, lastly, a stopwatch. That was it. We dive in pairs, but only one person gets the navigation board. So somebody else out there is just like, "I hate my life. This dive is taking forever. I don't even have anything to look at." So sometimes when I was the buddy, I would just swim on top of my dive buddy and just look at the navigation board too because I was so bored.
I just wanted to look at numbers slowly just, like, creeping around. Sadusky: Can you see Gates in the water? Sir, it's the Hudson. Nothing is visible. So, all these people that are above them looking down are going to see the bubbles. This would be an example of where closed circuit would be better than open circuit.
Because even if that guy grabbed him right underwater, every time they exhale, the bubbles are coming up. It's actually really easy to track divers' progress from above when they're breathing open circuit. 'Cause open circuit you can see the bubbles, closed circuit you can be sneaky.
So it's just a closed-loop system that only allows the gas to flow through in one direction, because obviously you wouldn't want it coming back and forth. And you push it through a chemical scrubber, it pulls out the carbon dioxide, and, boom, you're off and running. There's a 100% chance that you could actually do that. But if you wanted to do it and actually not be seen, I'd say closed circuit is a better option.
I'll give him a 7. Bond: Conserve your gas supply. Speak only when necessary. Going to have to be a radio. There's no way it's going to be a Bluetooth connection. I have no experience with doing that.
There's not really anybody that you would be talking to, nor do I know what you would necessarily talk about. The diving that we did was hand-signal-based. Or you'd have a grease pencil and a piece of plastic, and you could write on it. Other than that, it was squeezes or just [blabbing].
And it's amazing actually how much you can learn what the other person is saying. You're almost actually holding a conversation. So, very low speed.
Even if something went wrong, the No. 1 thing you do is you stop the dive and you go to the surface, 'cause you can take the stuff out of your mouth and be like, "Hey, man, what's going on?" And you can restart the dive. Yeah, that's real. Sharks like to go in stuff too.
When things would bump into me, the theory that I went with was if I don't look, it didn't happen. So we would be swimming around a lot of times at night, and then I would get slammed, and my whole thought process was, "Nope, I'm not gonna look at that. I'm gonna pretend that it didn't happen." It probably was, like, a sea lion. You know, it could have been a dolphin.
It might've been a shark. I don't know. I didn't look. I would say that everything that they did is possible. They may not have had all the right equipment to do it, but I'll give it a 7. So, it requires different equipment. Oftentimes, even to get into these cave systems, it's a very high-risk, high-consequence activity.
Hard pass. Stay calm! We're going to buddy breathe. They decided that they were going to buddy breathe, which is just basically sharing one apparatus between two people. If you're going to do that, you're going to have to do more than just sit there and buddy breathe until your oxygen or air is gone.
Because you notice they were staying in exactly the same spot. So you could just sit there and do that and then run out of air and die together, or maybe buddy breathe and start making your way towards how you can get the [beep] out of there. Buddy breathing can kind of go exactly like it went in this movie. People's ability to hold their breath varies greatly. And when the regulator is in your mouth or the mask is on your face and you're breathing, you feel a lot better than the person who is holding their breath, watching you breathe, wishing that they were breathing, wanting the mask that you're wearing.
So it can become a little bit of a battle, but you have to work together. You follow the procedure, regardless if you're scared, cold, wet, hungry, tired, fill in the blank. Or everything in between. People can get very emotionally involved in those situations, where what they really need to do is procedurally work through it, as opposed to allowing their emotions to take over. And you have to work as a team.
Yeah. It would be one of the worst-case scenarios to have something happen like that. Not the way that I would want to go out, for sure. I'm going to give that a 7. So, if you liked this video and you want to see more, do me a favor and click the link that's above my head.