This is the last film to feature Shemp Howard following his death on November 22, 1955. However, it does not feature any new footage of him, making For Crimin' Out Loud the last to contain new footage of the late Stooge.
The Stooges are janitors who work at a newspaper office, begging to be given a chance to become reporters. The managing editor (Charles C. Wilson) promises to think about it over dinner. The phone rings while he is out and Moe answers. The person on the other end is one of the boss's reporters, Smitty (Emil Sitka), who relays a scoop to Moe that some important documents have been stolen by foreign spies. Coincidentally, the spy with the microfilmed documents, Mr. Borscht (Gene Roth) lives next door to the Stooges. He and the boys wind up as stowaways on an ocean liner. Stranded on a freighter on the high seas, and sustained by eating salami, the boys eventually overtake Borscht, recover the microfilm, and are thrilled with their newspaper scoop.
- As Shemp had already died, Commotion on the Ocean would be the last Stooge film featuring Shemp Howard as the third stooge. For his last four films (Rumpus in the Harem, Hot Stuff and Scheming Schemers), Columbia utilized supporting actor Joe Palma to be Shemp's double. Even though these films were remakes of earlier Shemp efforts, Palma's services were needed to link what few new scenes were filmed to the older stock footage. At one point, then-Columbia boss Harry Cohn and Stooges director Jules White considered making shorts with Palma as a Shemp double indefinitely. However, Larry and a very grief-stricken Moe disagreed, believing that if they did that, the Stooges' days as a comedy act would definitely be numbered and that they had to have a living "Third Stooge." By the time the Stooges returned to making shorts, comedian Joe Besser had been recruited to be the new "Third Stooge."
- For Commotion on the Ocean, Palma appears in only one new shot during the newspaper office scene. After Larry says, "Oh, I know Smitty: 'Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smitty stands'," Moe slaps him. Palma gets involved in the slapstick exchange and shields himself in defense, obstructing his face.
- During the scene where the hammock in the ship falls in the fire You can obviously see Shemp's Double(This was stock footage from "Dunked in the Deep").