This military drama is based on the true story of Carl Brashear, who was the first African-American to serve as a diver in the United States Navy. Brashear (played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) was born to a poor farming family in the deep South, and joined the Navy in hopes of bettering himself. When Brashear applies for diving school, he first encounters Master Chief Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro), a gruff and tyrannical diving instructor who holds absolute sway over his charges. Sunday does little at first to encourage Brashear's ambitions, and the would-be diver discovers racism in the military is an ugly fact of life when his white comrades refuse to share barracks with him. But Brashear's courage and determination make an impression on Sunday, and the two men become allies as Brashear must fight prejudice, military bureaucracy, and even a crippling injury in order to realize his dreams.