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The working titles of this film were SS 111 and Submarine School. On August 25, 1942, after Crash Dive had been selected as the film's title, Twentieth Century-Fox announced that it was considering renaming the picture again, because of fears that "the ticket buyers might connect the title with an airplane story." After the opening credits, a written prologue reads: "The cooperation and assistance of the officers and men of the U.S. Navy submarine base, New London, Connecticut, is gratefully acknowledged." Tyrone Power's credit reads "Tyrone Power U.S.M.C.R."
On September 12, 1942, Pittsburgh Courier stated that the film would "touch lightly on the seaman life of Dorie Miller," an African American messman who was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroic actions aboard the U.S.S. Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Although Miller is not directly portrayed in the picture, Pittsburgh Courier noted that Ben Carter's character, "Oliver Cromwell Jones," would be depicted as "a heroic mess attendant, very much a part of the plot, and a fighting man among fighting men." According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, John Payne and Randolph Scott were originally set to star in the picture. Another Hollywood Reporter news item noted that William Perlberg was scheduled to produce the film. He was replaced by Milton Sperling, who, on September 10, 1942, left the studio to join the Marine Corps. Lee Marcus then stepped in to act as producer while the film was still shooting. The picture was also Tyrone Power's last before enlisting in the Marine Corps as a private. Although Power was originally set to report for duty on October 1, 1942, he was granted a deferment to finish the picture. He did not make another film until 1946, when he starred in The Razor's Edge. Much background footage was shot on location at the U.S. Naval submarine base in New London, CT, and the Navy supplied equipment and granted access to submarines and servicemen. Although Hollywood Reporter production charts include Charley Grapewin in the cast, he is not in the completed picture. Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that prints of the picture were made with an incorrect certificate number-8371-instead of the correct one-8731. A Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Norman Nesbitt was to be the narrator of a "special trailer" for the picture. Hollywood Reporter also reported that in conjunction with the film's opening at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on May 27, 1942, the Navy would be "setting up a recruiting station in the lobby" and would "keep it there all through the run of the film." The picture received an Academy Award for special effects (Fred Sersen, photography, and Roger Heman, sound).