Fiery crash appears to damage US Army tank ahead of major exercise in Australia
Stars and Stripes July 21, 2023
A U.S. Army M1A2 Abrams tank was involved in a seven-vehicle collision on an Australian highway Wednesday ahead of large-scale drills by Indo-Pacific allies.
Video of the accident’s aftermath, aired Thursday by Australia’s 9 News, showed plumes of black smoke rising above Bruce Highway in Queensland and a fireman extinguishing flames in the wreckage. The tank could be seen on a semi-trailer in the footage.
The accident occurred near Rockhampton, ahead of Saturday’s start for Talisman Sabre, a two-week training exercise mostly involving U.S. and Australian troops.
Three vehicles caught fire and multiple explosions were heard following the 11:30 a.m. collision, 9 News reported.
Six people were taken to local hospitals, the report said. The incident involved two trucks, including one carrying a pair of recreational vehicles, three cars and a four-wheel-drive vehicle towing a travel trailer.
Officials closed the highway, which reopened 24 hours later, and a rail line around the tank, according to the report.
The Abrams belongs to the 1st Armored Division and is one of 15 deployed for Talisman Sabre, Army spokesman Jimmy Sheehan said in an email Thursday to Stars and Stripes.
U.S. and Australian military officials didn’t respond to questions emailed Thursday about damage to the tank and whether it could participate in the training.
Photographs of drill preparations posted by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service show an Abrams tank driving off the USNS Bob Hope, a logistics naval vessel, at the port in Gladstone, Australia, on July 15.
Bruce Highway links Gladstone with Rockhampton, near Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, where much of the Talisman Sabre training will take place.
“We’re grateful to the Australian first response team for their quick action in providing medical, police, and fire services,” Sheehan said. “We are working closely with the Australian Defence Force and local law enforcement on the recovery of this equipment. The investigation is on-going.”