Two of the Marines’ Newest Amphibious Combat Vehicles Got Stuck in Big Waves

ACV Splash

US Marines assigned to the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, drive an Amphibious Combat Vehicle into the water toward the USS Anchorage at Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 12, 2022. US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Willow Marshall.

US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Willow Marshall.

Two Marine Amphibious Combat Vehicles, or ACVs, foundered and had to be abandoned in high surf at Camp Pendleton this week, prompting the service to announce it is suspending all water-based training with the vehicles.

In an accident on Pendleton’s Southern California beach Tuesday, July 19, an ACV rolled over in high surf and a second became disabled. The Marines and sailors on board abandoned both and, the Marines said, were all safely accounted for with no serious injuries.

ACVs are the Marines’ newly introduced primary over-the-beach personnel carriers, replacing the Vietnam-era Assault Amphibious Vehicles, or AAVs. AAVs, which were phased out in recent years, were at the heart of a deadly 2020 accident that killed nine when one sunk in California waters.

This week’s incident was first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, and video of the incident was posted to YouTube by the US Naval Institute’s USNI News.

A Marine press release said the incident is under investigation.

Video of the incident appears to show the ACVs having difficulty in high surf. According to a fact sheet from its manufacturer, BAE Systems, an ACV weighs 35 tons and is approximately 10 feet high.

BAE’s website says ACVs are “capable of operating in conditions up to Sea State 3 and through a 9-foot plunging surf.” Sea State 3 refers to open ocean conditions with 4-foot waves.

In the video, waves crashing over the ACVs appear to be as high or higher than the vehicles. Their bottom portions are submerged in the water.

At one point Marines are shown jumping from one of the vehicles.


A US Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle, or ACV, with the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, enters the well deck of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island, April 10, 2022. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob D. Bergh.

US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob D. Bergh.

The service reported that all Marines on the vehicles were accounted for after the event. “Marines in both ACVs conducted their immediate action drills and safely returned to shore,” the Marines said in a statement.

A release from the Marines said that waterborne operations with ACVs would be paused “out of an abundance of caution” across the force.

“This is the right thing to do,” said Lt. Gen. David Furness, the deputy commandant of the Marine Corps. “A pause on ACV waterborne operations will give us time to conduct an investigation, learn from this event, and ensure our assault amphibian community remains ready to support our nation.”

The ACVs are rated to carry 13 passengers plus three crew, and can travel at 6 knots in the water and up to 14 miles at sea.

READ NEXT: ‘Jettison!’ — A Chinook Crew’s Incredible Story of Survival Over Afghanistan

Matt White is the Military Editor for Coffee or Die. He was a Pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years, and has over a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism. He also teaches journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Know a story about any aspect of the US military that Coffee Or Die readers need to know? Email him.
More from Coffee or Die Magazine
An RPG-launcher-carrying robot “dog” shown off at a Russian technology show is made in China and has a battery life of about an hour.
Marie LeClair defrauded her union, spending local funds on cell phone bills, a spa visit, and other perks.
Members of the Biloxi chapter of the Air Force Sergeants Association found eight bricks of cocaine, wrapped in tape and plastic for smuggling and labeled with “Dior” stickers, washed up on a Biloxi beach.
A Florida veteran who faked a limp, wore an adult diaper to his VA appointments, and lied about getting PTSD from combat is going to prison.
While citizens in Ukraine’s capital are no longer hunkered in bomb shelters, the war is far from over.
The arrest of the Gab user follows federal warnings about a rising sea of threats against law enforcement following the FBI’s raid on Donald Trump’s Florida resort mansion.
Michael Dwight Clay was wanted for murder, carjacking, and aggravated assault allegedly committed after his release.
Antonio Hurtado confessed to the deadly smuggling attempt that wrecked a boat on a California reef.
Marine Corps veteran Phil Klay is the author of two novels and a collection of essays.
Jennifer Suazo faces up to 30 years behind bars for bank fraud and identity theft.