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Navy League 2022: USMC rolls out new Amphibious Combat Vehicle tow rope fix

A USMC Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) heads into the water. The service is outfitting the vehicles modified tow ropes. (BAE Systems)

US Marine Corps (USMC) Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACVs) are receiving new tow ropes, and once the change is made, marines are authorised to use them for all types of water-related operations, the service told Janes.

This material upgrade stems from a 2021 service decision to suspend all ACV waterborne operations because of a towing mechanism problem. More specifically, each vehicle is designed to tow another ACV in the water using two tow ropes rigged through a device called the sea tow quick release (STQR). During water-towing training, marines identified that the STQR may become permanently deformed while towing through the surf zone. When this deformation occurs, it can cause an unintentional release of a tow rope and/or an inability to operate the STQR, the service said in 2021.

USMC officials later decided the fleet was safe to resume activities within ‘protected waters' but not in surf zones while it worked on a fix.

The service and prime contractor BAE Systems then tested out the tow rope material change in “operationally relevant environments” (which are, protected waters, open ocean, and the surf zone) in December 2021 to confirm that the problem had been solved, Program Executive Officer (PEO) Land Systems, Barb Hamby, a spokesperson for the USMC, wrote in an email to Janes on 29 March.

“Revised tow ropes are being provided to all fielded units. Vehicles equipped with the revised tow ropes are authorised to tow in the water without restrictions,” Hamby said.

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