Marine major general sanctioned for fatal training accident in 2020

The Marine Corps disciplined a two-star general for his role in the sinking of an amphibious assault vehicle off the coast of California in July that claimed the lives of a sailor and eight Marines, adding to a list growing number of senior officers confronted with the consequences of the accident.

The service announced on Wednesday that Major General Robert F. Castellvi, who commanded the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif., at the time of the fatal training accident, and then became the Corps Inspector General, would be permanently removed from his post as Inspector General.

General Castellvi was “personally and formally advised” by the commander of the Marine Corps, General David H. Berger, said Major Jorge A. Hernandez, spokesman for the Marines, noting that such action generally prevents a officer to be promoted further. or by keeping command.

The measures taken by the direction of the Marines against General Castellvi were reported earlier by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The amphibious vehicles involved in the sinking were assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which was then under the command of General Castellvi. After becoming Inspector General in October, he was temporarily removed from his post in April as part of the crash investigation.

A investigation whose results were published in March cited “a confluence of human and mechanical failures” that led to the sinking of the 20-ton armored vehicle – which runs on tracks like a tank and uses water-jet pumps to transport Marines from ships off to battles on land – and hampered initial efforts to rescue those on board.

On the afternoon of July 30, nine amphibious vehicles were navigating the water from San Clemente Island, a major Navy training area off the coast of Southern California, to a ship. of the Navy as part of a training exercise when one of them began to face the water.

Although the vehicle’s captain called for assistance, the investigation revealed that no safety boats were in the water to assist. A second amphibious vehicle reached the stricken vessel about 20 minutes later, but the two eventually collided, turning the edge of the struggling vehicle into an incoming swell. A large wave then swept through an open hatch, quickly sinking the flood vehicle with 11 soldiers on board, killing nine people.

The investigation determined that the sunken vehicle was poorly maintained and that those on board had not been adequately trained. The Marine Corps cited both problems in its justification for the dismissal of General Castellvi.

The commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit at the time, Colonel Christopher J. Bronzi, was dismissed from his post on March 23, according to a Marine Corps statement. The battalion and company commanders responsible for the sunk vehicle were relieved of their duties in October. Seven other servicemen were sanctioned for their role in the crash, but the Marine Corps did not name them.

In an email, Major Hernandez said General Castellvi would not make any immediate public statement and the investigation was continuing.

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