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Archive for the ‘Maritime’ Category

SCUBAPRO SUNDAY – Dive Gloves

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

Having the right pair of gloves will make your life so much better when working in the water, whether you are doing a two-hour dive in Norway or driving a zodiac for a long-range OTB. The right pair of gloves will depend on what you are doing and how long you are doing it. One of the other factors is the water temperature/ weather. Suppose you need to use your hands a lot during a dive, like pushing a button on a Navigation board, or be able to use your hand right after the dive, like climbing a ladder, shooting a gun. Lastly, how is your tolerance to the cold?  

These will be the main factors to take into account when choosing the thickness of the gloves. The colder the water, the thicker you might need to go.

1-3mm: water between 60- 75 ° F (16-24 ° C)

5-7mm: water between 45-60° F (8-16 ° C)

Here are the two main things you might want to think about when choosing a pair of gloves for military use. 

• Freedom of movement with a minimum amount of thickness that allows you the thermal comfort and protection you will need.

• What is material is on the palm and fingers? Can the gloves be used to grab and hold metal or plastic?

Make sure when you are trying them out to grab different things to make sure they will work. If I am in a store, I will always grab the medal racks to see how they work. They need to be suitable for everything for climbing, shooting, and holding onto different things.

Dive gloves come in a variety of thickness levels between 0.5mm to 7mm. A pair of 1.5mm Tropical gloves that have a leather palm is an excellent place to start. Gloves are like booties because even in warm water, you can have a thicker bootie on, and your feed will not get hot. Always have a warmer glove on without is being that much of a pain. Some tactical gear companies are making gloves designed for being in a wet environment that are also good for diving. The WETWORX gloves from S&S Precision come in two styles. One is thinner for warmer water, and one is a little thinker (2mm) for colder. I know they have put a lot of work into them, and they are nice gloves as more units get back into the water.

That said, S&S makes all their stuff to be used in the water as the owners come from a water background. I like gloves that can hold onto something medal, like if you have to climb a caving ladder or hold onto a gun—also holding plastic like a navigation board or working plastic buckles. Many dive gloves have small plastic beads on them that are not the best for working in the water. It is hard to find a good pair of thick dive gloves that meet the above requirements. If you have to be on a boat or mostly about the water, you can get a pair of dive gloves that are a couple sizes bigger than you usually would wear and put wool gloves on as a base layer. Even when wet, Wool will still hold heat in, and the dive gloves will help keep your hands warm and dry. The same trick works with gloves you will see fisherman use. You can also bring a thinner set of gloves like 1.5mm with you and change them out a couple of minutes before hitting the target. You can try with a thinker pair of gloves to put a set of work gloves on over them. That way, you always have the right grip.

When choosing the right glove, they should fit well enough to avoid water circulation inside as much as possible this will help keep the heat. They should not be so tight because that will cut off circulation to your hands. The thicker the gloves, the more insulated you have, but the tradeoff is this might give you less mobility. So, it will be difficult to manipulate the equipment and also to done and doff them. Choose the gloves that you think will protect you enough for the type of water you will perform most dives. You will want gloves to fit your wrist close to reducing the bulge that can happen if there is too much material between your sleeves and gloves. If you don’t do this right, just moving your hands will let water in, and it will make your hands and you cold.

Dive Gloves Maintenance Tips

Treat dive gloves like you treat anything you want to last. It would help if you cared for gloves like you treat your wetsuit. They should be soaked in freshwater after each dive and not just rinsed. You want to force the salt out. Please do not put them in the washing machine or use detergents to clean your wetsuits or gloves. Allow them to dry in a ventilated place until completely dry. Textile gloves take longer to dry. Do not dry them in the sun, as with all neoprene, it will cause them to age faster.

Images by Paul Wildman (@builtbywildman) ©Paul Wildman

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Rash Guards and UPF  

Sunday, December 27th, 2020

Rash guards were initially made to help prevent chafing on your skin against a surfboard, but it slowly made its way into almost every water sport. On land, rash guards can be used for everything from underbody armor (if worn under armor, make sure it is fire retardant none of SCUABRPOs rash guards meet the FR standards) mix martial arts to looking cool in the gym. (I can’t pull that last one-off, and to be honest, I would want to). Rash guards serve a couple of purposes in the water; they help make donning and doffing your wetsuit easier. They help protect you from the cold and sea life. Depending on the type/kind you use and how it’s made, it will help you keep warm, protect you from the sun, and, if made with some type of compression, it can help with craps and overall fatigue. DFND USA compression clothing provides medical-grade compress that adds in recovery and enables you to warm up faster. It is also great for long flights.

The SCUBAPRO UPF Collection Rash Guards are designed for diving but are suitable for other water sports. The long sleeve rash guards are made from high-quality polyester fabric, are form-fitting, comfortable, and dry quickly. They also provide UPF 50 UV protection, which puts them in the excellent UV protection category.  

The UPF 50 rating blocks 98% of UV radiation. Polyester is comfortable and abrasion-resistant, and it does an excellent job of retaining its shape after repeated use. A high neckline prevents uncomfortable chafing. The material dries quickly to enhance comfort between dives. If you want to add some thermal protection, not much can beat neoprene.

SCUBAPROs Everflex 1.5mm neoprene Rash Guards keep you warm while protecting you from scrapes and stings. The high-tech materials ideal for tropical diving, snorkeling, or pool training, these thermal tops are made with a special water-repellent, high-stretch Everflex neoprene on the outside and a combination of fleece and plush on the inside. They offer warmth, comfort, and lots of range of motion, plus they dry quickly and are great for layering. There are two styles of rash guards, tight and loose.

Neoprene is lightweight, durable, water-repellant, and a highly efficient insulator for heat retention. They are assembled using solvent-free glue, a 100% green process. High-tech plush and fleece lining reduces water flow and provides both comfort and extra warmth. Design helps block water intrusion to reduce convection. This design can also help keep you warm on the surface.  High-stretch neoprene is easy to don and doff and offers an excellent range of motion. They are designed to be worn by themselves, or you can use them as a base layer.

If your groups would like items like this without the reflective markings on them or you want special order items, please contact SCUBAPRO Customer service.

Four Additional Schiebel Camcopter

Friday, December 18th, 2020

Vienna, 14 December 2020 – Naval Group, on behalf of the French Navy, has accepted for operational use two further CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) with a total of four Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs). They will be deployed on the Mistral-class amphibious helicopter carriers (Porte- Hélicoptères Amphibie – PHA) Tonnerre and Mistral.

The acquisition comes after the successful integration of the CAMCOPTER® S-100 on the French Navy Mistral-class vessel Dixmude, which was finalised in 2019. This was the first time in Europe, that a rotary wing UAS had been connected to the combat system of an amphibious helicopter carrier.

The acceptance tests of the two systems took place in the last week of October with representatives of Naval Group and the French Navy in attendance.

Over the next few months the newly acquired CAMCOPTER® S-100 UAS will be integrated on the French Navy’s vessels Tonnerre and Mistral, significantly enhancing the helicopter carrier’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

The CAMCOPTER® S-100 VTOL UAS operates day and night and can carry multiple payloads up to a combined weight of 50 kg. Due to its minimal footprint, reliability and airworthiness pedigree, it is ideally suited for maritime operations around the globe.

Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group, said: “After the successful integration on the Dixmude, we are very proud of the confidence the French Navy has in the proven and reliable CAMCOPTER® S-100 and we are looking forward to the integration on the Tonnerre and Mistral and their operational deployment.”

LCDR Serge D., UAS program officer, French Navy: “The S-100 on Mistral-class will be the first operational tactical UAS for the French Navy and this is a major step towards the Mercator plan.”

Porte Hélicoptère Amphibie Maintenance Architect at Naval Group, Philippe V., said: “We participated in the successful factory acceptance test, which was an important milestone for this acquisition, prior to the global integration onboard conducted by Naval Group.”

Royal Canadian Navy Awards Tulmar Safety Systems Contract to Support ‘Hammerhead’ Tactical Life Preserver Units

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Tulmar Safety Systems is pleased to announce the award of contract W8482-218402/A by the Canadian Department of National Defence to support the Tulmar ‘Hammerhead’ Tactical Life Preserver Units (TLPU) in-service with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).  Tulmar’s ‘Hammerhead’ TLPU is used by the RCN’s Naval Tactical Operations Group (NTOG) whose teams on Canadian warships provide boarding parties for maritime interdiction operations.  During these operations, NTOG team members are exposed to significant risk of falling overboard and are able to rely on the proven performance of the Hammerhead TLPU.  When failure is not an option, Tulmar answers the call:  Engineered for Protection.

www.tulmar.com

Marines Train with Dutch Counterparts during Exercise Coastal Caribbean Warrior

Monday, December 14th, 2020

SAVANETA, Aruba —

U.S. Marines with Charlie Company, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division recently traveled nearly 1,600 miles to conduct open-water and dive training with Netherlands Marines from the 32nd Raiding Squadron in Savaneta, Aruba, on November 7.

The training increases interoperability between the Netherlands Marine Corps and the U.S. Marines as they work side-by-side as partner nations. 2nd Recon Battalion, stationed on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, don’t often have the opportunity to work in tropical waters such as those of Aruba. To further develop the relationship between the two units, the Dutch Marines, will in turn, travel to Camp Lejeune in coming months to perfect their own tactics in a foreign climate and to perform myriad other types of training in the U.S.

“This is really a unique opportunity. The Dutch Marines’ subject-matter expertise in coastal tropics is invaluable to preparing us for combat situations in foreign regions.”

Capt. Joshua Foster, company commander of C Company, 2nd Recon Battalion

“The training circumstances here in Aruba are optimal,” said Netherlands Marine Corps Capt. Mark Brouwer, a Dutch exchange officer embedded with 2nd Recon Battalion. “We have everything in place here to train a lot better than we could’ve on Camp Lejeune. On top of that, the skills we teach to 2nd Recon, we do here on a daily basis.”

“This is really a unique opportunity,” said Capt. Joshua Foster, company commander of C Company, 2d Recon Battalion. “The Dutch Marines’ subject-matter expertise in coastal tropics is invaluable to preparing us for combat situations in foreign regions.”

The 32nd Raiding Squadron is regarded as an essential line of defense for the island of Aruba. Their effectiveness in conducting open water operations and their integration with their naval counterparts represent vital skills for 2nd Recon Battalion to hone. This bilateral training increases proficiency in a variety of skills necessary to complete their mission.

“There is nowhere else we could’ve trained with a full troop of Dutch Frogmen,” said Foster. “The environment here in Aruba is better suited to developing the skills that will help us in future operations, and it really helps us integrate with the Dutch who will be a really strong partner in the event we have to operate in Eastern Europe or the high North.”

2nd Recon Battalion completed a visit, board, search, and seizure training package as well as dive training, and a series of firing ranges. Being able to learn from the Netherlands Marines in their primary area of operations, helps 2nd Recon Battalion build a faster, more mobile, and more lethal force when operating in such diverse locations.

“The training is helping us build new unit operating procedures,” said Sgt. Zachary Palmgren, a team leader with 2nd Recon Battalion. “The water is clear so the dive teams can see what they’re doing and better build on the foundations they have. The VBSS training helps us integrate with the Dutch, and it shows us a more real-world application for the training we do at home.”

By working together, Marines from both nations developed a better understanding of how to implement new techniques. This type of bilateral training is critical, in particular when fighting in littoral and coastal regions. 2nd Recon Battalion’s mastery of these skills is paramount if they are to integrate effectively with their own naval counterparts.

By Lance Cpl Brian Bolin Jr., 2nd Marine Division

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Operation Frankton

Sunday, December 13th, 2020

Operation Frankton was a commando raid designed to disrupt the shipping of the German-occupied French port of Bordeaux in southwest France during World War II. The raid was carried out by a small Royal Marines unit known as the Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment (RMBPD), part of Combined Operations, now known as the Special Boat Service. They planned on using six canoes to be taken to the area of the Gironde estuary by submarine. They would then paddle by night to Bordeaux. They would attack the docked cargo ships with limpet mines and then escape overland to Spain on arrival. Twelve men from no.1 section were selected for the raid, including the commanding officer, Herbert ‘Blondie’ Hasler, and with the reserve Marine Colley the total of the team numbered thirteen. One canoe was damaged while being deployed from the submarine, and it and its crew, therefore, could not take part in the mission. Only two of the ten men who launched from the submarine survived the raid: Hasler and his no.2 in the canoe, Bill Sparks. Of the other eight, six were executed by the Germans, while two died from hypothermia. 

The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill believed the mission shortened the war by six months. The words of Lord Mountbatten, the Commander of Combined Operations, are carved into a Purbeck stone at Royal Marines Poole (current headquarters of the SBS): “Of the many brave and dashing raids carried out by the men of Combined Operations Command none was more courageous or imaginative than Operation Frankton.” The Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment (RMBPD) was formed on 6 July 1942 and is based at Southsea, Portsmouth. The RMBPD was under the command of Royal Marines Major Herbert ‘Blondie’ Hasler, with Captain J. D. Stewart as second in command. The detachment consisted of 34 men and was based at Lumps Fort, and often exercised in the Portsmouth Harbor and patrolled the harbor boom at nights.

The Bay of Biscay port of Bordeaux was a significant destination for goods to support the German war effort. In the 12 months from June 1941 – 1942, vegetable and animal oils, other raw materials, and 25,000 tons of crude rubber had arrived at the port. Hasler submitted a plan of attack on 21 September 1942. The initial plan called for a force of three canoes to be transported to the Gironde estuary by submarine, then paddle by night and hide by day until they reached Bordeaux 60 miles (97 km) from the sea, thus hoping to avoid the 32 mixed Kriegsmarine ships that patrolled or used the port. On arrival, they hoped to sink between six and 12 cargo ships then escape overland to Spain.

Permission for the raid was granted on 13 October 1942, but Admiral Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, increased the number of canoes to be taken to six. Mountbatten had initially ordered that Hasler could not take part in the raid because of his experience as the chief canoeing specialist but changed his mind after Hasler (the only man with experience in small boats) formally submitted his reasons inclusion. The RMBPD started training for the raid on 20 October 1942, which included canoe handling, submarine rehearsals, limpet mine handling, and escape and evasion exercises. The RMBPD practiced for the raid with a simulated attack against Deptford, starting from Margate and canoeing up the Swale.

Mark II canoes, which were given the codename of Cockle, were selected for the raid. The Mark II was a semi-rigid two-man canoe, with the sides made of canvas, a flat bottom, and 15 feet (4.6 m) in length. When collapsed, it had to be capable of negotiating the submarine’s narrow confines to the storage area then, before it was ready to be taken on deck, erected and stored ready to be hauled out via the submarine torpedo hatch. During the raid, each canoe’s load would be two men, eight limpet mines, three sets of paddles, a compass, a depth sounding reel, repair bag, torch, camouflage net, waterproof watch, fishing line, two hand grenades, rations, and water for six days, a spanner to activate the mines and a magnet to hold the canoe against the side of cargo ships. The total safe load for the ‘Cockle’ Mark 2 was 480lbs. The men also carried a .45 ACP pistol and a Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife.

The men selected to go on the raid were divided into two divisions, each having its own targets.

· A Division

· B Division

A thirteenth man was taken as a reserve, Marine Norman Colley.

Mission

On 30 November 1942, the Royal Navy submarine HMS Tuna (N94) sailed from Holy Loch in Scotland with the six canoes and raiders on board. The submarine was supposed to reach the Gironde estuary, and the mission was scheduled to start on 6 December 1942. This was delayed because of bad weather en route and the need to negotiate a minefield. By 7 December 1942, the submarine had reached the Gironde estuary and surfaced some 10 miles (16 km) from the estuary’s mouth. Canoe Cachalot’s hull was damaged while being passed out of the submarine hatch, leaving just five canoes to start the raid. The reserve member of the team, Colley, was not needed, so he remained aboard the submarine with the Cachalot crew Ellery and Fisher.

According to Tuna’s log, the five remaining canoes were launched at 1930 hours on 7 December. The plan was for the crews to paddle and rest for five minutes every hour. The first night, 7/8 December, fighting against strong cross tides and crosswinds, canoe Coalfish had disappeared. The surviving crews encountered 5 feet (1.5 m) high waves, and canoe Conger capsized and was lost. The team consisting of Sheard and Moffatt held on to two of the remaining canoes, which carried them as close to the shore as possible, and had to swim ashore. The teams approached a significant checkpoint in the river and came upon three German frigates carrying on with the raid.

Lying flat on the canoes and paddling silently, they managed to get by without being discovered but became separated from Mackinnon and Conway in canoe Cuttlefish. On the first night, the three remaining canoes, Catfish, Crayfish, and Coalfish, covered 20 miles (32 km) in five hours and landed near St Vivien du Medoc. While they were hiding during the day and unknown to the others, Wallace and Ewart in Coalfish had been captured at daybreak near the Pointe de Grave lighthouse where they had come ashore. By the end of the second night, 8/9 December, the two remaining canoes, Catfish and Crayfish, had paddled a further 22 miles (35 km) in six hours. On the third night, 9/10 December, they paddled 15 miles (24 km), and on the fourth night, 10/11 December, because of the strong ebb tide, they only managed to cover 9 miles (14 km). The original plan had called for the raid to be carried out on 10 December, but Hasler now changed the plan. Because of the ebb tide’s strength, they still had a short distance to paddle, so Hasler ordered them to hide for another day and set off to and reach Bordeaux on the night of 11/12 December.

After a night’s rest, the men spent the day preparing their equipment and limpet mines, which were set to detonate at 21:00 hours. Hasler decided that Catfishwould cover the western side of the docks and Crayfish the eastern side.

The two remaining canoes, Catfish and Crayfish, reached Bordeaux on the fifth night, 11/12 December; the river was flat calm, and there was a clear sky. The attack started at 21:00 hours on 11 December. Hasler and Sparks in Catfishattacking shipping on the western side of the dock placed eight limpet mines on four vessels, including a Sperrbrecher patrol boat. A sentry on the deck of the Sperrbrecher, apparently spotting something, shone his torch down toward the water, but the camouflaged canoe evaded detection in the darkness. They had planted all their mines and left the harbor with the ebb tide at 00:45 hours. At the same time, Laver and Mills in Crayfish had reached the eastern side of the dock without finding any targets, so returned to deal with the ships docked at Bassens. They placed eight limpet mines on two vessels, five on a large cargo ship, and three on a small liner.

On their way downriver, the two canoes met by chance on the Isle de Caseau. They continued downriver together until 06:00 hours when they beached their canoes near St Genes de Blaye and tried to hide them by sinking them. The two crews then set out separately, on foot, for the Spanish border. After two days, Laver and Mills were apprehended at Montlieu-la-Garde by the Gendarmerie and handed over to the Germans. Hasler and Sparks arrived at the French town of Ruffec, 100 miles (160 km) from where they had beached their canoe, on 18 December 1942. They contacted someone from the French Resistance at the Hotel de la Toque Blanche and were then taken to a local farm. They spent the next 18 days there in hiding. They were then guided across the Pyrenees into Spain.

It was not until 23 February 1943 that Combined Operations Headquarters heard via Mary Lindell’s secret message to the War Office that Hasler and Sparks were safe. On 2 April 1943, Hasler arrived back in Britain by air from Gibraltar, having passed through the French Resistance escape organization. Sparks was sent back by sea and arrived much later.

Aftermath

On 10 December, the Germans announced that a sabotage squad had been caught on 8 December near the Gironde’s mouth and “finished off in combat.” It was not until January 1943 that all ten men on the raid were posted missing in the absence of other information until news arrived of two of them. Later it was confirmed that five ships had been damaged in Bordeaux by mysterious explosions. This information remained until new research of 2010 revealed that a sixth ship had been damaged even more extensively than any of the other five reported. This research also revealed that the other five vessels holed were back in service very shortly afterward.

For their part in the raid, Hasler was awarded a Distinguished Service Order and Sparks the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM). Laver and Mills were also recommended for the DSM, which could not be awarded posthumously, so instead, they were mentioned in despatches.

Of the men who never returned, Wallace and Ewart were captured on 8 December at the Pointe de Grave (near Le Verdon) and revealed only certain information during their interrogation, and were executed under the Commando Order, on the night 11 December, in a sandpit in a wood north of Bordeaux and not at Chateau Magnol, Blanquefort. A plaque has been erected on the marked bullet wall at the Chateau, but the authenticity of the details on the plaque has been questioned; indeed, given the evidence of a statement by a German officer who was at the execution, there can be no doubt that the Chateau has no link with Wallace and Ewart. A small memorial can also be seen at the Pointe de Grave, where they were captured. In March 2011, a €100,000 memorial was unveiled at this same spot. After a naval firing squad executed the Royal Marines, the Commander of the Navy Admiral Erich Raeder wrote in the Seekriegsleitung war diary that the executions of the captured Royal Marines were something “new in international law, since the soldiers were wearing uniforms.” The American historian Charles Thomas wrote that Raeder’s remarks about the executions in the Seekriegsleitung war diary seemed to be some ironic comment, which might have reflected a lousy conscience on Raeder’s part.

After having been set ashore, MacKinnon and Conway managed to evade capture for four days, but they were betrayed and arrested by the Gendarmerie and handed over to the Germans at La Reole hospital 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Bordeaux, attempting to make their way to the Spanish border. Mackinnon had been admitted to the hospital for treatment for an infected knee. The exact date of their execution is not known. Evidence shows that Mackinnon, Laver, Mills, and Conway were not executed in Paris in 1942 but possibly in the same location as Wallace and Ewart under the Commando Order.

The attack had been planned for the fourth night, but because they were not far enough up the river, Major Haslar delayed it until the fifth night, deciding to move in closer to the target area. They continued along the river with great caution and found a lay-up position in reeds, only a short distance from two large cargo ships. In their hide position, the men worked out details of the plan of attack. With only CATFISH and CRAYFISH now available, Catfish was to take the shipping on the east bank, and Crayfish the shipping on the west bank.

Nineteen limpet mines with nine-hour fuses were placed, resulting in considerable damage to at least five large ships in the harbor. Adolf Hitler was furious. One of the cockles had been discovered, and he demanded to know how ‘this child’s boat’ could have possibly breached all German defenses and security, traveled over seventy miles at night in very rough seas and against the tide, then attacked and sank his shipping with not one of them being discovered! The answer that Hitler did not want to hear was that these ‘children’s boats’ had been crewed by well-trained, determined, and courageous, Commando raiders of the ROYAL MARINES. Major Hasler received a DSO for his part in organizing and leading the raid and Marine Sparks a DSM. The RMBPD later became The Special Boat Squadron.

The Commandos’ final task was to leave the target area undetected then make their way through France in the hope of finally reaching England. After a few miles, they went and wished each other luck, hid their cockles a quarter of a mile apart by sinking them, and headed inland. The men headed north for Ruffec in the hope of connecting with the Marie-Clare Line that operated in the Ruffec area. Contact was made, and Marie-Clare (Mary Lindell) had the men moved to Lyon while traveling to Switzerland to report their contact. A route was arranged for them to travel to the south of France, cross the Pyrenees, and return to England via Gibraltar.

CATFISH: Major Hasler/Marine Sparks reached the target area destroyed shipping. He returned home via Marie-Clare Escape Line and Gibraltar.

CRAYFISH: Corporal Laver/Marine Mills reached the target area, destroyed shipping. Last seen landing. Captured by Germans. Executed in Paris on 23 March 1943.

CONGER: Corporal Sheard/Marine Moffat capsized in a second tidal race. He was last seen swimming to shore off Point de Grave. Moffat’s body was found later. Sheard’s body was never found, presumed drowned.

CUTTLEFISH: Lieutenant Mackinnon/Marine Conway last seen off The Mole at Le Verdon. He was later captured by Germans, executed in Paris on 23 March 1943.

COALFISH: Sergeant Wallace/Marine Ewart missing near Banc des Olives after the first tidal race. Later captured by Germans and executed near Bordeaux on 12 December 1942.

CACHALOT: Marine Ellery/Marine Fisher – canoe damaged on torpedo hatch of HMS Tuna. They were unable to take part in the raid.

USMC Amphibious Combat Vehicle Achieves Major Milestone

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

The US Department of Defense announced today:

BAE Systems Land and Armaments L.P., Sterling Heights, Michigan, is awarded an $184,444,865 fixed-price-incentive (firm target) modification to previously awarded contract M67854-16-0006 for amphibious combat vehicles (ACV).  This modification provides for the procurement of 36 full rate production ACVs and other associated production costs for the Marine Corps.  Work will be performed in York, Pennsylvania (60%); Aiken, South Carolina (15%); San Jose, California (15%); Sterling Heights, Michigan (5%); and Stafford, Virginia (5%).  Work is expected to be completed in November 2022.  Fiscal 2021 procurement (Marine Corps) funds in the amount of $184,444,865 are being obligated at the time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Virginia, is the contracting activity (M67854-16-C-0006).

Marine Corps’ Program Executive Office Land Systems issues a story about the program:

Marine Corps will begin fielding Amphibious Combat Vehicle

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.— The Marine Corps’ new Amphibious Combat Vehicle has achieved two new major milestones.

On Nov. 13, the Marine Corps’ Capabilities Development Directorate approved the Initial Operational Capability of the ACV. Marines with 1st Marine Division aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, were the first to receive the vehicle.

The Program Manager Advanced Amphibious Assault program office at Program Executive Officer Land Systems manages the system.

“We’re providing Marines with a modern, armored personnel carrier that offers tremendous capability with respect to survivability,” said Col. Kirk Mullins, program manager for Advanced Amphibious Assault at PEO Land Systems. “The ACV gives the Marine Corps a capable platform operational across the full-range of military operations.”

Then, on Dec. 8, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) James Geurts approved the vehicle for Full-Rate Production. This means the Marine Corps can build and field higher quantities of the ACV at a sustained rate over the next several years.

What is the ACV?

The ACV is a next-generation, eight-wheeled vehicle designed to move Marines from ship to shore. The vehicle will be the primary means of tactical mobility for the Marine infantry battalion at sea and ashore, replacing the Corps’ aging Assault Amphibious Vehicle.

The ACV provides organic, direct fire support to dismounted infantry. The vehicle’s ability to leverage waterways to carry Marines and equipment make it well-suited for various operating environments, including Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations.

It is net-ready, secure, interoperable, operationally effective and built for future growth. In the future, the Corps intends to develop, procure and field three additional variants that specialize in command and control, recovery operations and increased firepower.

“The fielding of the ACV is significant because we’re replacing the AAV, which has been effective for decades but was fielded in 1972,” said Mullins. “We’re providing Marines with a modern, more capable combat vehicle that is more adaptable to today’s battlefield.”

Col. David G. Bardorf, the director of Ground Combat Element Division at the Marine Corps’ Capabilities Development Directorate, said the ACV has progressed significantly since its initial requirements discussions in 2014. Combat Development and Integration was responsible for developing the requirements set that would be needed to replace the older platform.

“Reaching IOC is a testament to those involved in this program and the constant communication between the stakeholders: requirements, program managers, and [the vendor],” said Bardorf. “In the end, the Marine Corps is receiving an upgrade in capability ahead of schedule. We look forward to the program moving forward towards Full Operational Capability.”

Mullins said the vehicle is projected to reach FOC in fiscal year 2028.

Marines excited for new vehicle

In 2019, PEO Land Systems oversaw extensive testing involving the ACV that confirmed the vehicle’s ability to not only take on challenging surf, but also complete a long swim from ship to shore. The testing also indicated that the ACV has greater survivability and mobility than the AAV.

In 2020, Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity performed independent operational testing involving the ACV’s achieved suitability, effectiveness and survivability. Results from the assessments, as well as feedback from Marines trained to employ the vehicle, came back positive.

Mullins believes the ACV achieving IOC and FRP is a significant achievement for the Marine Corps, as Marines will receive an innovative vehicle that further supports their missions in various combat environments for years to come.

“As program manager, I’ve spent a lot of time speaking with Marines who have trained with this vehicle in a variety of test environments,” said Mullins. “The feedback we’ve consistently received has been overwhelmingly positive. Marines seem to really love the vehicle.”

Story by Barb Hamby, PEO Land Systems

Photo by by Ashley Calingo

Combat Divers Submerge Inside Cheyenne Mountain

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. —

A Special Forces Operations Detachment – Alpha (SFOD-A) with 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) put their combat dive skills to use November 5, 2020 where one would least expect: in the heart of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. 

Inside the complex are three reservoirs that hold water for a variety of uses, including cooling the mountain’s generators and expelled exhaust. Because the mountain is designed to function independently, the water systems are vital to the success of the mountain’s operations. Assessing the Structural integrity of the reservoirs and ensuring the water is flowing freely through the cave systems that connect them keeps things running smoothly. 

“They originally contracted with a civilian company to get this done,” says the Officer in Charge of the Dive LIfe Support Maintenance Facility at 10th SFG (A). “My brother, an Air Force Logistical Officer tasked to the Space Force, recommended they get in contact with (us) to do it for free.”

The facility manager of the complex and the DLSMF and a chosen combat dive SFOD-A set out to accomplish the mission.

“Dive operations don’t happen very often in special forces,” says the OIC. “This was a good chance for us to go out and showcase our capabilities as a legitimate maritime force within (Special Operations Command) to actually do a real world mission. It’s not infiltrating into enemy country or territory, but it was a chance for us to show everyone that we do have this capability and it’s important to keep the capability within the Special Forces community.”

10th SFG (A) to establish and develop relationships outside of the Army and Special Operations Command. It started a relationship with the Cheyenne Mountain complex to provide future opportunities for real world missions, training and equipment testing. These relationships are essential to interoperability within different branches of the military enhancing our overall capabilities as one united force. 

By Sgt Angela Walter, 10th Special Forces Public Affairs