You Only Live Twice question

So Sleuth is running You Only Live Twice this lazy afternoon, and a question has arisen.

In the beginning, Bond is dispatched on his mission from a submarine via way of the torpedo tube (I guess the divers broke the hatch they used to get him on the submarine in the first place). Would such an event be survivable, or would it be like a circus performer getting shot out of a cannon?

Well, presumably the stuntman who filmed the scene survived, so… yes.

Looking at how the scene was shot, I assume it was models and camera cuts. I don’t think they actually did it.

I was under the impression that torpedo tubes are part of the evacuation plan for submarines. I look forward to an authoritative answer to this question.

I’m not a submariner, but I don’t think torpedoes get launched at bullet-like speeds. My understanding is that a modern torpedo’s top speed is not much more than 50 knots. In addition, they are self-propelled; altogether, this means you don’t need a high-G launch to get them out of the torpedo tube. I would think it would be survivable with a human bean inside.

Ens. Kenneth Whiting demonstrated a torpedo tube escape in April, 1909.

What launches them?

Aren’t torpedoes self-propelled?

Water ram.

You know, this sounds like a perfect proposal for a Mythbusters test. I think I’ll have to repost it to their site, later.

Torpedo tube escape? Or torpedo tube escape using the water ram?

Navy SEALs use swim-out launches from converted submarine ballistic missile tubes. The closed tube (with SEAL inside) is flooded, them the outer door is opened and they swim out. One does not need to be propelled out, but the whoosh of compressed air they seem to use might provide a little push.

Scene is at about 14:30 in the movie.

The Mark 48 torpedo (the largest torpedo in the modern US arsenal) is 21 inches in diameter. Although most people could fit into a torpedo tube, it wouldn’t be comfortable, especially with a full diving rig or exposure suit. The torpedo itself is pushed out by a “water ram” (here is a diagram of the system) which uses water under a few tens of psi of pressure; it may not be enough to kill someone, but it would certainly be very uncomfortable and likely incapacitate the diver. The torpedo tube itself has a series of interlocks that prevent the loading hatch from being unlocked while the muzzle door is open for reasons that should be obvious to all, so it cannot be used as an escape hatch.

The escape hatch on a submarine (other than the normal opening in the sail to the bridge) are the forward and/or aft torpedo loading hatches on the upper side of the pressure hull. These are fairly large hatches designed to allow onload of munitions and supplies, and submariners typically refer to them as the “Mom hatch,” as in, “See, Mom, if we get in trouble, that is how we get out.” The reality is that in any real emergency that occurs at any significant distance below the surface, the likelihood of sailors escaping and surviving is pretty low. Many submarines also have one or more airlocks to support diving operations and/or external shelters; however, again the openings are as small as feasible and are not part of the general escape plan. In the case of serious damage (like onboard fire) from which the submarine can reach the surface, the crew musters to their FIRECON or DAMCON stations, and everyone else goes to the loading hatches, egresses to the topdeck of the hull, and piles into the inflatable life rafts that are tethered to either the hull or each other.