Just 22 days after the Marine Corps lifted a complete freeze on amphibious combat vehicle (ACV) operations, limited restrictions on their operations were reinstated after another training accident at Camp Pendleton on Thursday night.
An ACV occupied by three Marines assigned to an amphibious assault school capsized in a surf zone after the crew reported mechanical failure during a training operation, according to a Marine Corps press release.
This training mishap occurred less than three months after two ACV Marine vessels fell victim to heavy surf conditions that hit the coast of San Diego County in late July.
During the July incident, one ACV “overturned on its side in the surf zone and another ACV became disabled” during the exercise, 2nd Lt. Noah Richardson shared with NBC 7 in a prepared release.
No Marines were injured in any of the three incidents.
The two incidents in July prompted Lt. Gen. David Furness, the deputy commandant of the Marine Corps who oversees policy and operations, to order a pause in all ACV water operations.
“The pause in ACV water operations will give us time to conduct an investigation, learn from this event and ensure our amphibious assault community remains ready to support our nation,” Furness said in July.
The incidents in July also prompted another investigation by the US Marine Corps, which would include an investigation into the use of this style of vehicle during periods of high surf, said media officer 2nd Lt. Noah Richardson.
The July break included only water training, which allowed for continued training with ACVs on land.
“The ACV has a requirement to operate in conditions up to Sea State 3,” said Capt. Ryan Bruce, US Marine Corps media officer based at the Pentagon. “In addition, it is capable of transiting both offshore and inshore through a surf zone characterized by 6 feet of surf.”
The interim guidelines included an operating limit for ACVs of a “significant breaker height of 4 feet,” referring to the height of waves that would be permitted to operate.
The Marine Corps shared, however, that after issuing new interim guidance to “enhance operational security,” Marine Corps ACVs are authorized to return to open ocean operations as of Sept. 22.
“The interim maximum surf conditions are conservative and derived from existing safe operational surf conditions for U.S. Navy and Marine Corps amphibious assault ships, and allow the service to better understand surf conditions through ongoing vehicle testing,” the Marine Corps said in a statement.
These guidelines were adjusted after Thursday’s training accident as the Marines again “cease water operations that include transit into the surf zone to allow for additional testing and evaluation.”
“We are taking a deliberate and methodical approach to fielding this platform,” Furness wrote Friday of the revised guidance, adding, “This adjustment to current guidance ensures that our Marines have the ability to safely train and maintain proficiency with the platform as we work to conduct additional testing.”
No time frame has been set for when the ACV surf zone transit suspension will be lifted.