Navy, Marine Corps to work together to standardize rules following deadly AAV accident

U.S. Marines drive assault amphibious vehicles through the surf during training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, July 14, 2020. Marines at Camp Pendleton were back in the ocean with AAVs this week.


By CAITLIN M. KENNEY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 5, 2021

WASHINGTON — Navy and Marine Corps are working together on standardizing their rules for joint operations following the deadly assault amphibious vehicle accident last year, according to the Navy’s top officer.

Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, said Monday that he met with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger after the release on March 25 of the investigation into the AAV accident.

“What we discussed was the fact that there are gaps and seams where there shouldn't be gaps and seams in Navy and Marine Corps operations at the tactical level,” Gilday said during a Defense Writers Group event. “So these are combined operations that we've been doing for some time now, and to have separate requirements on the Marine Corps side and the Navy side just doesn't make sense.”

On July 30, eight Marines and a sailor from the Battalion Landing Team 1/4 of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit drowned as their assault amphibious vehicle sunk near San Clemente Island off the coast of California during a training exercise ahead of a deployment.

Their vehicle was traveling back to the USS Somerset when it began to take on water. The investigation into the accident found there were no proper safety boats on the water that day and the unit’s vehicles were in “horrible condition.”

Gilday said the services are working together to make certain that operations with amphibious vehicles have the same standard instructions. He has appointed a three-star admiral in charge of the Navy’s support to the effort.

Gilday did not describe any specific requirement gaps between the two services for these types of operations.

Following this review of standards, the Navy and Marine Corps are going to take a broader look at the various tactical operations that the services conduct together to see where there are variations in guidance, he said. From there, they will be combined and agreed up by both services.

Twitter: @caitlinmkenney