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USMC working on ACV changes, surf zone operations still halted

US Marines with Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, take an ACV out for open ocean low-light testing in December 2019. The service announced that it had paused ACV waterborne operations in September 2021 due to a towing mechanism problem. (US Marine Corps)

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has said it anticipates that it will once again be able to use its new fleet of amphibious combat vehicles (ACVs) in surf zones some time in ‘early' 2022. However, the vehicles' prime contractor, BAE Systems, first needs to make material and design changes that enable the vehicle to be safely towed in the water.

The service announced in early September that it had suspended ACV waterborne operations due to a towing mechanism problem. It resumed ACV activities within “protected waters” later that month, but it is still not using the vehicles in surf zones, Barb Hamby, a spokesperson for the USMC Program Executive Officer (PEO) Land Systems, wrote in a 1 November email to Janes .

“Should an ACV become disabled in the water, it is designed to be towed by another ACV using two tow ropes rigged through a device called the sea tow quick release (STQR),” Hamby explained. “During water-towing training, marines identified that the STQR may become permanently deformed while towing through the surf zone, the most dynamic portion of water operations.”

When this “deformation” occurs, it can cause an unintentional release of a tow rope and/or an inability to operate the STQR, she added.

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