The US submarine Sea Tiger is severely damaged in the first days of WWII, before its captain, Lieutenant Commander Matt Sherman (Cary Grant,) has even left port.
Sherman receives permission to attempt a repair and re-floats the sub with the help of his hard-working crew.
Utilising the illicit scavenging talents of his new officer Lt. Nick Holden (Tony Curtis) – aided by Ramon (Clarence Lung), a fugitive from the Marine Corps – Sherman sets sail for the safety of Australia.
Along the way, they pick up five stranded nurses, causing a minor commotion among the crew and officers.
The devious Holden sets his sights on seducing Lt. Barbara Duran (Dina Merrill) while the other nurses both help and hinder the functioning of the ship.
Major Edna Heywood (Virginia Gregg) turns out to be the perfect machinist’s mate for engineer Sam Tostin (Arthur O’Connell), but Lt. Dolores Crandall (Joan O’Brien) – a full-bosomed lass – accidentally causes Sherman to misfire a torpedo, spoiling the Sea Tiger‘s one chance at combat glory.
Painted pink because there’s no other colour available, the Sea Tiger finally becomes an object of derision and is actually depth-charged by an American destroyer, but distress signals in the form of female undergarments enable it to survive.
Finely photographed in beautiful Eastman Color, the uncomplicated Operation Petticoat is about as relaxing as a war movie can get and remains a satisfying light comedy.
Lt Cmdr Matt Sherman
Lt Nick Holden
Lt Dolores Crandall
Lt Barbara Duran
Major Edna Hayward
Captain J. B. Henderson
Robert F. Simon
Lt Claire Reid
Lt Ruth Colfax
Tony Pastor Jr
Engineer Sam Tostin