Under Siege Question...

Quick question about the movie “Under Siege”:

When the big guns fired (I think they were 18"ers), it showed Tommy Lee Jones being “blown around” on deck. Would this actually happen?

Also his ears were bleeding as well. If this is true, in times of war when the cannons were firing, what would most sailors be doing to protect their hearing?

Just curious…


No sailer here, but I’ve seen them stuff cotton in their ears in older movies…

I think they stay off the deck when firing.

Can’t say how accurate the portrayal was, as I can’t remember that scene, but the blast from battleship guns certainly could injure crew on deck. On the Nelson class, there were problems with the bridge windows shattering when firing abaft of the beam. On the Yamato class, fitted with the largest guns ever (18"), I’ve heard that the crew needed to retire below decks before they could be fired, or suffer permanet hearing damage.

Standing within 100 feet of the frontal arc of an M1 tank gun as it fires can cause permanent hearing damage and knock you down or unconscious. Battleship guns are much more powerful.

From here:

I can’t think of any old footage where anyone is actually standing on deck as the guns fire.

OK, now that you’ve had some factual answers I can say: The only big guns I remember belonged to Erika Eleniak

Just a guess, but I think if the shock wave/blast force is sufficient to toss you off your feet - which does seem realistic - it would likely kill you as well. The Mythbusters are always using those G-force measuring stickers to test this sort of thing these days, and it seems like much much smaller blasts are still deadly at close range.

Could easily knock you off your feet, but unlikely to make your ears bleed.

Would she blow you around the deck?

Here is a photo of the guns firing, I think being on deck would be very hazardous to you’re health

Note the whole ship being shoved sideways.

Despite stories to the contrary, the ship is most definately NOT moving sideways.


Wiki says that a full charge shot for the 16inch/50 caliber mark 7 Naval Gun consists of six propellent bags, each weighing 110 pounds. This is a sufficient explosive force to send a 2,700 pound shell almost 40,000 yards.




I don’t have any hard numbers for you, but I don’t think I want to be near almost 700 pounds of explosive going off.

I recall reading about some British gun blast tests they did towards the end of the 19th century. Not surprisingly, most of the blast effects will be directed/felt in the direction the barrels are pointed. The blast zone was tear-drop shaped. Not a whole lot of blast was felt behind the muzzles. (The noise was something else, though. :slight_smile: ) Some to the sides, but this dropped off with distance relatively quickly, compared to the blast effects going down range. Some battleships were known to have damaged the deck plating on the areas near & below the muzzles. Not done much in peacetime, hard on the budget.

And, to paraphrase a helpful Cracked article: if you’re thinking that sounds tiny, understand the shells were 18 inches across.


Here is video footage of the USS Wisconsin firing her guns. See guns fire @ 3:12, then camera pans over at 3:25 to show film crew on deck, clearly not having been blown around the deck by the shock waves. Granted, they were some distance from the guns themselves; don’t know what happens if you’re berry close to the guns when they fire.

Note also @ 2:55 what appears to be someone on the bridge taking cover and covering their ears prior to firing. They are also probably behind a very thick lexan window. It appears that if you’re on the bridge behind lexan like that, covering your ears is adequate. Likewise with that film crew: apparently at their distance, standard hearing protection measures are adequate.

Is it clear what Tommy Lee Jones’ position/aspect in respect to the main gun blast was, in the film?

IIRC, he was just outside missile control.

I don’t know where missle control was supposed to be. I realise that it was somewhere in the superstructure…

If Jones was outside, and the 16inch gun was firing at an angle where the blast was in a general angle towards the superstructure, then I can see Jones being knocked down by the blast.

However, if the gun was firing at an angle greater than 90 degrees away from Jones, I don’t think it would knock him down, (It would surprise the heck out of him, though.) but that is a wild assed guess on my part.

I was merely wondering if the film established the angles involved.

Still, being Hollywood and all, what’s more important is the entertainment value of seeing him get knocked over. As well as seeing Mrs. Eleniak.