I was aboard three different U.S. Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) submarines built during the 1960's (all the same basic configuration as the RAYBURN) and have also visited a number of WWII fleet submarines like the one(s) in the movie (and in particular, made innumerable visits to ex-USS CAVALLA, (SS/SSK/AGSS-244) in Galveston, Texas). Basically, what you see in the movie is much more accurate than not. I can't think of any obvious discrepancy except that, as noted elsewhere, things were stretched a bit in places in order to work for Hollywood. Were you to visit one of the numerous WWII submarines on display in various places in the United States, they ought to look familiar enough to you after watching this. The topsides areas in the movie were 100% authentic except that, with the movie being shot more than 10 years after the war was over, a lot of wartime topside gear had been eliminated, most prominently the deck guns.
The account of "Dr. Pitt" of submarine life sounds rather suspect to me. Nobody was playful about illicit substances on any submarine I am personally familiar with. Any contact with any such substances meant Instant, Irrevocable Death to your submarine career, regardless of the circumstances, and with no second chances. Given that I never met a submariner who, however much he may have hated the Navy, wanted to be anyplace else but the submarine force as long as he was stuck in it, everybody took the ban very seriously. One ex-submariner who got caught with something wound up mucking out the bilges of a barge alongside the submarine tender for a living while the crew of our boat, when they caught a glimpse of him above deck, looked on with an attitude of "that poor stupid loser . . ." while on another boat, three A-gangers who got caught growing pot for money in an apartment near Charleston, S.C., were off the boat so fast we had to deploy without them, even though it left us seriously shorthanded in their division with the rest of those guys having to work 12-on/12-off for the next three months.
I also don't remember many medical emergencies aboard any boat I was on (maybe one serious or half-way serious issue per patrol) and certainly no surgeries, per se, which would have been done in the wardroom, rather than the crew's mess, an actual ship's design criterion that followed a sort of tradition that went back to WWII. (Indeed, as "Dr. Pitt" noted, doctors were removed from submarines decades ago; while rarely necessary there, they eventually came to be in short supply in other parts of the Navy and Marine Corps where they were needed a lot more). The complement of the FBM submarines was also more like 155 rather than a mere 120. Even then, there was little if any of the "hot-racking" that "Dr. Pitt" purports to describe in his account, because the FBM's had four times the displacement of a WWII submarine each with a ship's company of 80 or 90, so there was lots of room for sleeping berths compared with other submarines; in fact, until the Trident submarines hit the fleet in the 1980's they were the largest submarines by far that the US or any other Navy ever built. The sick bay was its own office in the missile compartment (outboard, port side, middle level), and any medical supplies that might not fit in there would presumably have been stowed not far away in and among the missile tubes in that most capacious of compartments. In any event, the whole thing was still a small enough world (425 feet long, 33 feet in diameter) to where by the end of a patrol you knew everybody aboard by name and by sight, even if you had never had any reason to talk to them personally.
Extreme thanks for your detailed and informative reply.
And yes, I can imagine that, more than on any other naval vessel, a submarine would be the last place one would want to have a cavalier attitude about drugs.
"I'm not reckless . . . I'm skillful!"
I went to junior high school with a guy whose favorite word was "skillful." lol. I used to think he'd made it up.