The Spy Who Loved Me

Is a great and terrible film. I rewatched it the other day, and as always ended up grumbling about its inanities. Yes, I know, Bond film, leave reality at the door. Sure, I tend to. The trouble with some of them though is that's they'd probably only need a tweak here or there and a lot of the 'put your brain away' issues would be gone. A touch of script doctoring, usually.

I mean I could say something about the implausibility of getting the Liparus built with its submarine hangar etc without anyone knowing is farcical, but then so is the idea that Zoidberg could hire several hundred goons all willing to end all life on earth and never say anything to anyone about anything, but these faults are true of almost all Bond films.

The first thing I really don't get is I can't figure out why the Liparus is built to hold three submarines when only two are required for his plan, Liparus needs to be about twice the tonnage to include the third sub. The first submarine taken is the British Resolution class SSBN. The second is a Soviet Delta II SSBN, which means now he has two perfectly servicable submarines. What is he waiting for, then?

OK, well, then, we have the early macguffin that someone has made a submarine tracking device, so they can find the boats in the first place. OK, I'll ignore that the system wouldn't work, but, in order for the whole capturing system to work you'd also need some other gizmos that would be far more impressive and worry the world powers much more. You have to have some mechanism for forcing the subs to the surface, as well as some kind of thingy that would effectively immobilise them as each of the sub classes are substantially faster than a giant oil taker. Without both of these there's no reason the subs can't just say 'Yeah? OK, how about 'fuck you, have some torpedo…''
The Liparus would also need to be absolutely silent, because it'd be impossible to sneak up on a fully functioning submarine in a million ton oil tanker - they'd have heard it clear across the Atlantic.

All that brings me to the Liparus itself. She's described as displacing one million tonnes. That's a very VERY big ship, and, it turns out, way bigger than it feasible even today. I took a lot of measuring sticks and started doing a run assuming that Zoidberg is, in fact, using the Knock Nevis (AKA Seawise Giant, AKA Jahre Viking et al) which was the biggest ship in the world (she's now scrap) and was about when the film was in pre-production Nock Nevis displaces about 650,000 tons.
A teeny bit of research shows that inside the Liparus for the final battle are what would pass as one Resolution SSBN,

one Delta 2 SSBN

and one Sturgeon SSN.

That's perfectly in keeping with the times. Working up from set productions thingies you can work out the basic layout of the set itself, and (This came as a surprise) if you put them and scaled ships into the Knock Nevis you get a weirdly correct layout. This is below. (This is a small version, it links to one to scale with the submarines above.)

Turns out, basically, that it is entirely possible to put Ken Adam's set and three full sized subs side by side in the Knock Nevis. The only problem is that you can also put the entire 007 soundstage (where the set was built) into Knock Nevis several times over in beam alone. Below is the 007 stage to scale, with the set's quay features (sorry) at the scale used by Ken Adams.

Fitting the set with KA's dimensions we suddenly find out that the submarines on set are comically built at approximately 40% of their actual size (Which is why to a submarine buff the entire set looks laughable.)

So, OK, if the Liparus were the Nevis, it could hold the subs. Came as a shock to me, but there it is.

I then set to working out the feasibility of the eating mechanism. With the known size of the sea doors, and the known required draught for the biggest sub (Nine meters for the Delta) which gives us an 'open to sea' area of 616.5 m2. ignoring that the top speed of an oil tanker with giant 'airbrakes' deployed would be, just about, zero, at it's given speed of 15.6knots, the Liparus would be ingesting 296,855 cubic meters of water every MINUTE. That would take Knock Nevis past her displacement in 1 minute fifty five seconds, and she'd sink. That would, also, completely flood the entire compartment they're using for the subs, which would destroy everything actually inside the hangar.

That water would, therefore, have to go somewhere, and that would require the use of after water doors at least as capacious as the front water doors. That would have made for a MUCH more plausible thing for Bond to notice when examining the model of the Liparus as, to be perfectly honest, the ship has a perfectly normal bow.

So, that would have been cool. However, there's still no reason why the Liparus can't just haul the subs in whilst she's stationary. It'd be much easier…

There's a lot more stuff I know I ought to be adding, but I'm going to skim over lots of them and dive into why either Zoidberg's plan or 007's foil wouldn't have worked.

IF it is true that the US and USSR would have committed to global thermonuclear war with a single exchange of missiles, then Bond's solution hasn't changed anything - two missiles still fly, in the direction of the great enemy and explode just dandy. One could argue that Stormdrain could simply keep firing until he had exhausted the arsenals of both ships, but why is he not doing that anyway? He's fully invested in the apocalypse, what's in it for him to save the nukes?

But it seems unlikely that that would have happened - it's not like the US and USSR are unaware they've lost submarines, or are unaware that the consequences of total commitment against an enemy you are FULLY AWARE is not attacking you would be, then the only real response one could expect is that the submarines would be found in short order (They're REALLY easy to find when they launch a missile) and sunk. Problem solved.