Armed Forces News

Camp Pendleton, CA - 2011: An amphibious assault vehicle from 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, lands on a beach during a bilateral training exercise with various Marine units from Southern California and more than 180 soldiers of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force. (Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Scott Dunn)

Separate investigations by both the Navy and Marine Corps determined that human error and maintenance issues caused a July 30, 2020 amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) accident, in which eight Marines and a sailor were killed.

Seapower magazine reported that the services’ internal probes exposed “gaps in doctrine and procedures” that led to the incident.

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The services are taking steps to correct the shortfalls, Seapower reported. From now on, Navy commanding officers must attend the Senior Amphibious Warfare Course before assuming command. Also, no AAV operations can take place until “a comprehensive and integrated communications plan [is] submitted.”

The Marines determined that any AAV actions that take place in the water would entail advanced inspections, particularly of waterborne egress capability. Criteria for hull watertight integrity, bilge pump function, communications systems and emergency egress lighting all have been implemented. Crew members also will have access to electronic tablets, from which they can gain access to technical and procedural manuals. The service implemented some 23 institutional actions in the tragedy’s aftermath, relating to equipment, procedures and training.

The Marine Corps probe also determined that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, too many tasks and not enough people to perform them, bad communication, inadequacies in training and equipping all played “significant roles.”

The incident occurred while the vehicle was taking part in a training operation in waters near San Clemente Island, California.