Shooting while Sea Sick

The USMC is running experiments to see how well Marines can perform certain tasks, including shooting, whilst sea sick during an amphibious assult. Marine Times reports

Can you fire your rifle while puking? Inquiring minds at the Naval Surface Warfare Center want to know.

The warfare center, in Panama City, Fla., is testing Marines to analyze the effects of seasickness on combat effectiveness. In all fairness, while testers have observed signs of motion sickness, no Marine has thrown up yet, according to Capt. Sean Toolan, a test officer for the Corps’ Advanced Amphibious Assault Program.

Seasick Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship Peleliu.

It seems a little academic to me. Why not just take seasick pills or patches a couple of hours before an assult?

[ Many thanks to Lance for emailing me the link. ]





Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • My own experience during my Navy days is that seasickness only occurred during the first day or so of a voyage, and that once past that period I had no problems with seasickness. I always took Dramamine the first couple of days of a voyage as a precaution. Once, just to test whether I was actually susceptible to seasickness I skipped the Dramamine, and discovered that I wasn’t immune. Dramamine has the side effect of making one drowsy, as if a dose of Benadryl had been taken. Probably not a good thing for a Marine going into combat, but since seasickness generally only is a problem at the start of the voyage, by the time that the ship is in the target area the problem of seasickness would have passed.

  • mikej

    Probably best to train in the worst conditions, so that is one less thing to worry about when the SHTF in the real world. You can always pick when the fight comes.

  • Gidge

    Looks like they’re trying to gauge the value of researching ways to reduce the effects of sea-sickness on a number of tasks. The first step is to establish a baseline to compare performance to normal circumstances.

    Someone’s quite possibly approached with proposals to develop something to improve combat effectiveness while seasick and this is the USMC doing a feasibility study.

    Alternatively some research is already being conducted and they’re doing this as the first step to measure the effectiveness of whatever it is they’re doing.

    This could be for medicated solutions, equipment or even just different training techniques.

  • Peter Ball

    Getting sick on an LHD?? What kind of Marines are those? In the Navy, we’d go out on deck, lean over the rails, feed the fish, and get back to work. At least that’s what we were a man’s Navy and not the touchy-feely force that Obama has created.

  • D

    I’d be interested to see the results; could be interesting for a game or something to better simulate the effects of nausea and such.

  • Jackson87

    “In all fairness, while testers have observed signs of motion sickness, no Marine has thrown up yet, according to Capt. Sean Toolan, a test officer for the Corps’ Advanced Amphibious Assault Program.”

    Since when do Marines care about throwing up?

  • MonieB

    Some individuals (such as myself) don’t respond to pills, patches, wristbands, saltines, etc.

    Perhaps such research will come up with better alternative medicines and/or treatment.

    I commend the Corps. for this research in ensuring the battle readiness of our troops.

  • Pete Sheppard

    A) Marines have been dealing with this for 200+ years; quite successfully, I might add…
    B) It’s also one of the reasons Marines are so aggressive; after wallowing around in a landing craft for hours, all they want to do is get off and woe to whoever gets in their way!!

  • noob

    if you want to induce motion sickness, just use an optokinetic drum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/9096826/

    it’s a trash can with vertical stripes painted on the inside turned upside down and hung from a motorized mount. put the marines in that, and spin it. no human being can last more than a few minutes without puking. then give them some trigger time.

    • Flounder

      DUDE!!!! WHEN WILL THE CARNIVAL GET A RIDE LIKE THAT!!!! Jump in the ride until you start puking then try and clear a shoot house! OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH SOOOOO MUCH FUN!

  • West

    Are those two pilots?

    • Dano-O

      No, those are maintenace personnel.

      • West

        Got it, thanks.

  • Dano-O

    Any Marine worth his salt will have developed his sea legs, and learn to cope with being on less-than-stable grounds. It’s all part of becomming an amphibious warrior, and inevitably a hardened target too.

    The study seams like a wasted effort, whose resources could’ve been better utilized funding other inititatives.

  • Reverend Clint

    Not to be out done the Air Force is testing whether or not pilots can fly with diarrhea by feeding them Taco Bell round the clock for 2 days.

    • monkeyfan

      Army has already licked the Taco Bell Rocket Stool problem…It’s called MRE’s.

  • ThomasD

    NASA funded research back in the late 70’s to determine which drugs were most effective against space sickness, which affects up to 50% of all those who go into orbit. IIRC the results were published in the Journal of Aerospace Medicine.

    The hands down winner was dextroamphetamine. Which certainly makes since from a biologic standpoint. Amphetamines are analogs of the bodies’ own adrenergic stimulant epinephrine (adrenalin), which is the primary chemical mediator of the fight-or-flight response. In survival mode it makes no sense for the body to be tied up heaving out your stomach contents. So it is understandable that epinephrine release might at least temporarily suppress severe nausea.

    The Air Force has no trouble using amphetamines for long overseas flights, and if limited to amphibious landings, or other similar acute events the Marines probably could too.

    • JMD

      In that case, shouldn’t the body’s naturally produced adrenaline be enough to get the job done? I would tend to think there’d be a fair bit of adrenaline produced before and during the process of all combat operations, including amphibious assaults.

      • Reverend Clint

        good point can this testing really be all that accurate since none of these marines are getting shot at, like a real landing

  • Kevin

    It is worth noting that pills and patches can have side effects that may be worse than the motion sickness itself. Read some accounts by WWII Normandy paratroopers, many state that the pills they were given caused drowsiness, fatigue and confusion.

  • Dear Enemy,

    Please provide at least two hours advanced notice before all assaults so that we may take our seasick pills.

    • Jeff Wong

      I don’t think a commander would plan a “surprise” amphibious assault. If it’s an actual assault instead of a landing, I would think they would have picked the day out well in advance.

    • D

      If you’re launching an amphibious assault with less then two hours notice, you have bigger problems afoot then sea sickness; usually you plan any kind of landing or assault way in advance of actually doing it.

  • Jon

    Naval architects will tell you that people don’t get sea sick because the boat is designed in a specific way. The natural rocking motions of the boat must occur at a different frequency than specific resonant frequencies of the inner ear.

    If you can let people get seasick, the boat can be optimized for other parameters, say to make it smaller or faster.

  • Matthew Carberry

    Seasick due to the smooth motion of a huge assault ship is different than seasick from the motion of circling in open water OTH for a while in an Amtrack with bad air, then racing into shore and busting surf.

    Like the difference between being airsick in a 747 versus an hour or two dealing with flying nap of the earth in the back of a KC130.

  • MARINEFO

    See what happens when you take Marines off Sea Duty? I came off 2 years aboard and aircraft carrier which isn’t rocking that much (or so you’d think) and went on a west pac in the China sea on a LHA (I think) during a hurricane and was one of a few Marines who didn’t get sea sick. Bring Sea service back people.

  • Lance

    LOL thats one of the few time full auto comes handy. Overall prepping men to shoot from moving platforms is always helpful.

  • Jacob

    They study this kind of stuff because everyone ASSUMES they know the answers. There were a lot assumptions about how people were injured or killed by explosions that were totally wrong. If they are giving them drugs to counter sea sickness what are the effects as it wears off. What if it hinders them significantly once they are on land and the drugs wear off. How many or what percentage of Marines become seasick. Under what conditions do the benefits of drugs outweigh the costs.

    The only way to get real answers is to actually study the problem.

    • Chase

      I was getting ready to lambast the Marines for this inquiry, but what you say makes sense. Studying things is good.

  • Most chemical-based seasickness treatments have the unfortunate side-effect of making the taker remarkably drowsy/tired, which I can only see as a bigger problem for the Marines than simply troops who are throwing up. I cannot speak to the wristbands or anything like that, but I personally found high doses of ginger to be just as effective as Dramamine without the “I’m going to fall over” side effects.

  • Brian

    I was a Marine on the 22nd meu spent over 10 months on a LSD we shot on the flight deck in rough seas and also did raids AAVs live fire training. sea sickness wasnt a major problem the diesel fumes and hours spent in the aluminum coffins was. we summed up the amount of time we spent in them and it was over 4 days this study has some merit but it just more funds that could be allocated toward other endeavors. We all had a little sea sickness at first but after a few days you are acclimatized and can function as normal. great site, great discussions

  • curryt1me

    Well, in regards to taking sea sickness pills, I would like to refer back to an old Marine Corps saying: “Shit happens, and then some”

  • armed_partisan

    Personally, I have only ever gotten seasick when I took Dramamine before I did something on the water, and then I was HORRIBLY sick. My guess would be that if you were seasick on your way to an amphibious landing, the adrenaline of being shot at would cure you of that relatively quickly.

  • John Doe

    For amphibious assaults, why don’t they screen for Marines that just don’t get seasick?

  • M.G. Halvorsen

    As an old “Gator-Navy” Sailor, I have a two-word solution to the problem of seasickness: saltine crackers. You Marines (and Sailors!) don’t need to suffer! Get a package of saltines, and nibble on them for the first day. They work good! Worked for me through 4 Westpac cruises. And, after the first or second day, if you still need ’em, you need to hit Sick Bay, you might have a problem in your inner ear.

  • Peter in DC

    No self-respecting Navy man would ever get sick in a 44,000 ton assault ship. C’mon we’re talking about an LHD, not a tiny 4,000 ton frigate in which you feel each and every shift in the wind.

    p.s. I though Marines were tougher than this…..so they keep repeating.