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USMC clears Amphibious Combat Vehicles for open-water training, caps breaker height

A USMC Amphibious Combat Vehicle heads into the water. US marines can again train with the vehicles in open-water areas and surf zones since a July 2022 accident with two vehicles. (BAE Systems)

US marines are once again allowed to train with Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACVs) in open water and surf zones but they can only operate the vehicles when the breaker height is less than four feet.

The US Marine Corps (USMC) ACV fleet has been sidelined from open-water operations since July when two vehicles were involved in an accident during a morning training exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in Southern California. During the event, one ACV personnel carrier (ACV-P) tipped onto its side in the surf zone and a second ACV-P became “disabled”, the 1st Marine Division announced that day. All marines inside the vehicles “safely” returned to the shore, but one ACV-P sank and the other one was towed to the shore, the division added.

Directly following the accident, USMC officials allowed marines to continue using this new ship-to-shore connector fleet for land operations but temporarily paused all ACV waterborne operations. By early August, marines were again permitted to train with the vehicles in protected waters while the service continued its investigation.

The service announced on 22 September that it has issued “interim guidance to enhance operational safety” of ACVs and marines can again resume training with the vehicles in open water and surf zones. However, this guidance includes a conditions-based caveat.

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