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The working title of this film was Mystery Ship. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, the title was changed from Suicide Fleet to Mystery Ship and back to Suicide Fleet within a two-week period. An August 1931 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Anthony Coldeway was "making a number of rewrites" on the script, but his contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. The U.S. Navy, which received an onscreen acknowledgment, gave approval to the script and ordered submarine crews docked in San Pedro, CA to cooperate with and participate in the filming. A Film Daily news item notes that three divisions of the Navy worked with the production and that three vessels, the submarine cruiser Argonaut, under Lieutenant-Commander W. E. Doyle, the destroyer Preble, under Lieutenant-Commander T. D. Westfall, and the Noa, under Lieutenant-Additional Commander Stuart A. Maher were used during shooting. According to other Film Daily news items, an actual ship was sunk for the production, which was shot in part at sea, and additional scenes were shot in the San Diego harbor. A Film Daily pre-production news item claimed that "thousands" of extras were to be employed during shooting. Film Daily also adds George Berliner to the cast, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. RKO rented Warner Bros.' "Coney Island street" for scenes in this picture, according to studio records.