SAN DIEGO (AP) — The U.S. Marine Corps will keep its new amphibious combat vehicle — a kind of seafaring tank — out of the water while it investigates why two of the vehicles ran into trouble off Southern California’s coast this week amid high surf, military officials said Wednesday.
No Marines or sailors were injured when one of the vehicles rolled onto its side Tuesday in waves that were unusually high because of a storm in the southern hemisphere. The other one became disabled when waves as high as 8-feet (2.4 meters) slammed the coastline.
The mishaps prompted troops to leap out of the vehicles and make their way to shore at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego. The mishaps were first reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The new vehicles were introduced to replace Vietnam War-era amphibious assault vehicles, one of which was involved in one of Marine Corps’ deadliest training accidents of its kind two years ago off Southern California’s coast.
Lt. Gen. David J. Furness, the deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for plans, policies, and operations, said the officials decided to halt waterborne operations involving the newer vehicles as a precaution while an investigation is underway. The Marine Corps will continue using the vehicles for land operations.
“This is the right thing to do,” Furness said in a statement. The effort will allow time to “ensure our assault amphibian community remains ready to support our nation,” he added.
In the July 30, 2020 amphibious vehicle accident, eight Marines and one sailor died when the vehicle sank rapidly in 385 feet (117 meters) of water off San Clemente Island. Seven of the Marines were rescued.
A Marine Corps investigation found that inadequate training, shabby maintenance and poor judgment by leaders led to the sinking.
The Marines use the amphibious vehicles to transport troops and their equipment from Navy ships to land. The armored vehicles that have machine guns and grenade launchers look like tanks as they roll ashore for beach attacks, with Marines pouring out of them to take up positions.