Marine general fired over fatal amtrac accident

| June 11, 2021 | 17 Comments

Maj. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi

Multiple people have sent this one in. A very high ranked Marine has been permanently relieved of his position after nine Marines and sailors died in an amtrac accident off the California coast last year.

From American Military News;

 

A Marine Corps general has been permanently relieved of duty after the service determined he failed to properly train Marines and sailors, leading to the deaths of nine troops when an amphibious vehicle sank off the coast of Southern California last year.

On Wednesday, the Marine Corps confirmed Maj. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, the former Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division had been relieved of his command. “He will not return to that position,” Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Andrew Wood said in a statement Wednesday, reported by Business Insider.

Wood added Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger “took adverse administration action against him.”

According to officials, Castellvi was first suspended in April following the deadly but preventable training accident 70 miles of the San Diego’s coast.

“He was found responsible for a lack of training. No action was taken against him, and up until last week he was, in fact, the inspector general for the Marine Corps,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) during a hearing on the incident in May.

“That is correct,” confirmed Gen. Gary L. Thomas, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. “He has been suspended from his duties.”

Investigators found the accident, which occurred on July 30 last year, was the result of inadequate training, questionable maintenance of the decades-old amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) and commanders’ bad judgement.

“During the return transit, water began to enter the mishap AAV through multiple points of leakage, the transmission failed, bilge pumps were unable to expel water rapidly enough due to the transmission failure, and the AAV began to sink. The vehicle commander gave the distress signal, known as a ‘November flag,’ but no safety boats were in the water, and it took approximately 20 minutes for another AAV to arrive to assist,” the Corps explained.

“The mishap AAV was slowly sinking for approximately 45 minutes before the other AAV with embarked personnel pulled alongside. The mishap AAV crew prepared to evacuate embarked personnel by opening a hatch on the top of the vehicle. The AAVs collided, causing the mishap AAV to turn broadside to a swell. A large wave swept over the mishap AAV, in which water entered the troop compartment through the open hatch, and caused the mishap AAV to rapidly sink with eleven personnel on board.”

Troops had not been suitably trained to escape the amphibious assault vehicle quickly, nor had the unit executed the required evaluation that would address issues prior to the exercise.

God damn, that’s not a good way to go. I’m no expert in operating 64,000 lbs amphibious armor, but it seems like being able to quickly evacuate is something that should be well practiced before going out on the open ocean with one.

Category: Guest Link, Marine Corps, Marines

Comments (17)

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  1. ChipNASA says:

    Mason asked *HOW* could this happen and I’m certain more of you while chime in on this one but, from my guys limited experience (HUMVEE IED training?) in egress training on land…
    It’s all about inexperience, lack of training about what to do *IF* something happens so it’s muscle memory, a failure of equipment and well, dark.

    “The mishap AAV was slowly sinking for approximately 45 minutes (Equipment and training fail, WTF) before the other AAV with embarked personnel pulled alongside. The mishap AAV crew prepared to evacuate embarked personnel by opening a hatch on the top of the vehicle (OK, really just let water in?? like no flotation devices to assist bouyancy attached to the outside??) The AAVs collided (OK well even *I* know htis is bad), causing the mishap AAV to turn broadside to a swell (OK< we're getting closer to totally fucked). A large wave swept over the mishap AAV, in which water entered the troop compartment through the open hatch, and caused the mishap AAV to rapidly sink with eleven personnel on board. (Annnnddd you've got folks trapped, disoriented, water coming onboard, no breathing aparatius and now they're sideways/upside down and probably pitch black”) Destination FUCKED!!

    • Hack Stone says:

      Hack Stone’s first assignment after escaping Radio Repair School in 29 Stumps was 3rd Amtracks. Just wondering how much training for operating and embarking/disembarking on Tracked vehicles was pushed to the back burner while everyone prepared their uniforms to march in The Gay Pride Parade?

    • Poetrooper says:

      The best one was watching young Ralph Northam getting ready to party…😜😜😜

  2. MarineDad61 says:

    Memories of the CSS H.L. Hunley (1863-1864),
    which sank 3 times with loss of life,
    including Confederate engineer Hunley himself.
    RIP 5+8+8=18
    Raised in 2000 and preserved in H. L. Hunley Museum
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._L._Hunley_(submarine)

    • KoB says:

      A number of us were at the internment of the Hunley Crew members and paid Honors to those Warriors. There is an SCV Camp in Illy-noise that is named for Lt. Dixon, the Commander of Hunley when she became the FIRST (ht 2 Bim) Sub to sink a Combat Ship. And, ‘lest we forget, the CSS David was a semi submersible that attacked and caused damage to USN Blockading Vessels.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSS_David

      Hope the Gnrl was ready to retire, cause his career is toast. I understand that the Commander is responsible for everything that happens on his watch, but how much personal blame can be placed on him? Was the training records he was supplied pencil whipped to show all of the boxes checked? Did he know that his Marines and Sailors were not properly trained and/or the equipment they had was insufficient? Who else lost their job in this fiasco? Remember all the tracked vehicles that were supposed to swim to the shore on D-Day?

      Wonder if any blame can be placed on Kongress Kritters that cut the funds needed to properly train and equip our Warriors? Yeah, didn’t think so.

  3. Martinjmpr says:

    Yikes, that sounds awful.

    People sometimes ask me how I could jump out of a perfectly good airplane (my response is that there’s no such thing as a “perfectly good airplane”) but the thing about being Airborne is, if your ‘chute fails, at least it’s a relatively quick and painless death.

    Drowning in a floating tank in the middle of the ocean? No thanks, I’ll take a malfunctioning parachute every time.

  4. Lthrnck1775 says:

    RIP.

    AAVs are floating cinderblocks… the troop top hatches are narrow slits the no one with any gear on can fit thru. Remember the crappy “quick releases” on the Alice packs – for just such an emergency? Well most of those failed so often that we taped them up!

    I did Amphib Assault training in FEB 1989-ish? … only way id ride in that floating coffin was in the gunner or commander spot (separate position with its own hatch) – for easy bailout. The other unlucky 15+ SOBs rode on a bench hugging that nasty diesel motor.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Training is inherently risk (especially driving an umpteen-ton amphtrac off the end of a ship into the water) so let’s not train for anything except diversity activism if we value our careers now!

    Great way to prepare for fighting the Chicoms in island-hopping like World War II– I’m sure they approve.

  6. ninja says:

    The American Military News INCORRECTLY reported that Major General Castellvi was “relieved of his Command”.

    He did not have a Command.

    He was the Marine Corps Inspector General.

    This past April, Castellvi was suspended from serving as the Marine Corps Inspector General “pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation into the
    into the formation of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a force of about 2,200 Marines and sailors that included the AAV that sank.”

    “Marine Corps Suspends General Cited In Fatal Amphibious-Vehicle Disaster At Sea”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2021/05/03/marine-corps-general-sea-disaster/

    “Gen. David H. Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, suspended Castellvi from serving as the service’s inspector general pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation into the formation of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a force of about 2,200 Marines and sailors that included the AAV that sank.”

    Am speculating that the April suspension may have been political in nature:

    “Lawmakers Question General’s Prestigious Pentagon Assignment After Fatal AAV Accident”

    https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/04/19/lawmakers-question-generals-prestigious-pentagon-assignment-after-fatal-aav-accident.html

    The outcome as mentioned:

    “Marine Corps Commandant Forces Out General Cited In Fatal Amphibious-Vehicle Disaster”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2021/06/09/marine-corps-commandant-forces-out-general-cited-fatal-amphibious-vehicle-disaster/

    “A two-star general has been forced out of his job after an investigation found that he should have done more to prepare a unit of Marines that suffered a “preventable” disaster at sea last year that killed nine people.”

    “Maj. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, who was suspended from his job as the Marine Corps inspector general in April, will be removed permanently, Capt. Andrew Wood, a Marine spokesman, said in an email.”

    “The decision by Gen. David H. Berger, the service’s top officer, will be part of Castellvi’s permanent record and “must be considered if he is evaluated for promotion, retention, or roles of responsibility,” Wood said.”

    “This action typically prevents an officer from being promoted or serving in a role where he/she would be charged with the responsibility of caring for Marines and Sailors,” Wood said.”

  7. USMCMSgt (Ret) says:

    YAT YAS!

  8. Devtun says:

    Now it’s a matter of sliding out as a two star. Looks like he has the 3 yrs TIG. The SECNAV will determine if it was satisfactory. Long career – 37+ yrs.

  9. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    UFB… UFB

  10. SgtBob says:

    A Valor Guardians story from a month or so back mentioned that when the AAV started taking on water, a crewman said something like, “Where’s my sergeant?” That is the same as, “I don’t know what to do.” Any former or present NCO reading those words has to get a gut-punch feeling.

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