US Marine Generals Vow To Boost Safety After Multiple Drowning Accidents - Testimony

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 04th May, 2021) The US Marine Corps is working to transform its institutional culture and introduce new safety measures to prevent unnecessary deaths after eight corps members and a Navy sailor drowned in a July 30 training accident, a senior Marine Corps general told the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) on Monday.

"The deaths were preventable in so many ways but we failed: We failed these brave young men," Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps General Gary Thomas said in testimony to the HASC Readiness Subcommittee. "Our safety culture has to improve. ...We're looking at adding additional safety specialists to our exercises."

Eight Marines and a Navy hospitalman all aged between 19 and 23 were drowned when the amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) on which they were riding sank in the Pacific Ocean off San Diego on July 30 after a routine training exercise.

US Naval Surface Forces Commander Vice Admiral Roy Kitchener acknowledged that the Navy's casualty assistance calls officer (CACO) process did not function properly during the tragedy. The AAV was not equipped with any radio equipment to directly call Navy ships in the area.

"The Navy CACO process did not work as it should have in this process," Kitchener told the hearing.

Marine Corps Staff Director Major General Gregg Olson told the hearing that the AAV was equipped with the capability for the Marines and Navy hospitalman to escape from it, but they had not been trained to use it.