Your Marine Corps

Marine assistant commandant puts off answering lawmaker questions on deadly AAV accident

Congress will be briefed at the end of March on the Marine Corps’ investigation into the July 30, 2020, amphibious assault vehicle accident that left eight Marines and one sailor dead.

The vehicle had gone down while conducting a training raid off the coast of California with 15 Marines and one sailor on board. But only seven of the service members were able to escape. The incident was the deadliest AAV training accident in the history of the vehicle.

“I understand that part of the problem was the escape hatch and their inability to open the escape hatch,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, asked the Marine general at a House Armed Services Committee subcommittee on readiness hearing on Tuesday. “Has that issue been resolved?”

The Marine Corps launched an investigation into the incident, which recently was completed, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Gary Thomas responded. But he’s not speaking until the all the family members of deceased service members have been informed of the investigation’s findings.

The Corps is about halfway through briefing all the families of the service members lost in the accident, Thomas told lawmakers.

Once all the families have been informed the Corps will publicly release the results of the investigation.

So far two commanders have been relieved due to the findings of the investigation.

Thomas will brief the lawmakers next week on the findings of the report, said Rep. John Garamendi D-California, the chairman of the readiness subcommittee in the House Armed Services Committee.

Thomas did speak about other Marine Corps mishaps and what the service is doing to reduce the numbers.

In his opening testimony he said that in 2021 no service member has yet died from any aviation mishaps.

The Corps had been free of any aviation mishaps until March 12, when a SAPHEI-T round exploded after leaving the gun of the F-35B, causing fragmentation damage to the fuselage, a report from the Naval Safety Center said.

The aircraft was able to safely land and no injuries were recorded, the report said.

A class A mishap is one where at least $2.5 million worth of equipment is damaged or a service member is killed or permanently disabled, according to military definitions.

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