One U.S. Marine has died, eight service members are missing and 2 were injured after an Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) mishap off the coast of Southern California on July 30.
The deceased marine was pronounced dead at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. Two Marines were transported to local hospitals, where one was listed in critical condition and the other in stable condition.
Fifteen Marines and one Sailor were inside the AAV at the time of the incident, eight of whom have been recovered.
According to a statement from U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), the search and rescue efforts are still underway to recover the missing eight service members with support from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. The statement added that all service members are assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (15th MEU).
The Marines in the AAV reported taking on water at approximately 545 p.m. PST. The incident occurred during a 15th MEU and Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group routine training exercise in the vicinity of San Clemente Island.
1 Marine has died, 8 service members remain missing and 2 were injured after an AAV mishap July 30 off the coast of Southern California. All are assigned to the 15th MEU. Search and rescue efforts are still underway with support from the Navy and Coast Guard.
— I MEF (@1stMEF) July 31, 2020
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident. I ask that you keep our Marines, Sailors, and their families in your prayers as we continue our search,” said Col. Christopher Bronzi, 15th MEU Commanding Officer.
Assisting in the search efforts are U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113), three Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and multiple small boats from the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8), and San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships, USS Somerset (LPD-25) and USS San Diego (LPD-22), as well as the U.S. Coast Guard Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Forest Rednour (WPC-1129) and a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Sector San Diego.
The I MEF statement said that the incident is under investigation.
Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV)
The Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) — official designation AAVP-7A1 (formerly known as Landing Vehicle, Tracked, Personnel-7 abbr. LVTP-7) — is a fully tracked amphibious landing vehicle.
The AAV-P7/A1 is the current amphibious troop transport of the United States Marine Corps. It is used by U.S. Marine Corps Assault Amphibian Battalions to land the surface assault elements of the landing force and their equipment in a single lift from assault shipping during amphibious operations to inland objectives and to conduct mechanized operations and related combat support in subsequent mechanized operations ashore. It is also operated by other forces. Marines call them “amtracs”, a shortening of their original designation, “amphibious tractor”.
In June 2018, the Marine Corps announced they had selected the BAE Systems/Iveco wheeled SuperAV for the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) program to supplement and ultimately replace the AAV.