The coronavirus pandemic that cut back on training in 2020 contributed to the drowning of nine military personnel off the coast of San Diego, according to a new military investigation into one of the Marine Corps’ deadliest training accidents in recent years. last years.
Senior commanders who preceded the crash were also tasked with additional “non-standard” missions, including sending Marines to the US-Mexico border as part of increased border security by the Trump administration and the United States. aid to the Navy’s hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, which has anchored off Los Angeles to relieve hospitals overwhelmed with coronavirus cases, according to the inquest findings released Wednesday.
The amphibious assault vehicle sank on July 30, 2020, off San Clemente Island, trapping troops inside. A previous investigation found the deaths preventable and blamed the tragedy on inadequate training, poor maintenance of 35-year-old amphibious assault vehicles, and poor judgment by commanders.
The families of the Eight Marines and a sailor filed a lawsuit against BAE Systems, the maker of amphibious assault vehicles, alleging the company had known for a decade or more of a design flaw that makes it nearly impossible for troops to open hatches of cargo and escape the 26 ton amphibious vehicles when they sink.
Vehicles have been at the heart of Marine Corps amphibious operations, transporting troops from ship to ship for combat and humanitarian operations since the early 1980s. Armored vehicles equipped with machine guns and grenade launchers look like tanks when they land for beach attacks, Marines come out to take up positions.
The results released Wednesday focused on the readiness of the troops prior to their participation in the exercise 70 miles (113 kilometers) off the coast of San Diego and noted that it should not be deviated from the previous investigation which had found a multitude of missteps and oversights that left the crew in the dark and using their cell phone lights to desperately try to find an unmarked escape hatch as they took to the water. There were also no security boats nearby to rescue them.
Despite this, Lt. Gen. Carl Mundy III wrote that “it would be a mistake to overlook or overlook the extraordinary demands related to COVID on leaders, staff and their Marines and Sailors during this time.”
He called the pace of following the ever-changing guidelines to curb the spread of the virus “immense.”
“Claims about their time and attention surfaced in a number of interviews with several senior officers who described conditions during this time as inferior to their experience in combat,” Mundy wrote.
About a dozen naval officers have been forced out of their jobs or otherwise disciplined. The Marine Corps also identified a two-star general who had overseen the exercise.
A parallel Navy probe discovered there were communication issues between the branches.
The military took steps to avert another tragedy, including requiring security boats to be nearby.
The investigation revealed that the troops had not received proper instructions on how to escape a sinking amphibious vehicle and that the unit had not completed the required assessment intended to resolve the issues. , including their swimming qualifications.
“Amphibious operations are inherently complex and dangerous, which emphasizes proper training and equally constant efforts to monitor and mitigate risk,” Mundy wrote.
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