POSTED: Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Marines look into vehicle's sinking

The Marines are investigating what caused a $2 million amphibious vehicle to sink about 160 yards off Bellows Beach during a training exercise on Monday.

No one was injured during the incident, which occurred at 6:30 p.m.

Maj. Alan Crouch, a Marine spokesman, said the tracked vehicle was carrying three Marines at the time. It was one of seven vehicles taking part in the exercise.

A release from the Marine Corps Base Hawaii said a combat assault company's assault amphibian platoon was conducting scheduled water operations when it encountered a swell about 1,200 yards offshore.

The 46,000-pound AAV or assault amphibian vehicle began taking on water and lost power while attempting to reach the shore, the statement said.

The three Marines onboard were safely evacuated to another assault vehicle participating in the exercise.

As a safety precaution an oil spill containment boom was placed around the area where the vehicle sank in 15 feet of water.

Navy salvage divers were to return to the area today to determine how to raise the sunken vehicle. Marine Corps officials hope to refloat the vehicle and send it the Barstow Marine Corps Logistical Base in California for repairs.

The 131/2-foot-long vehicles, capable of carrying 25 passengers and a crew of three, are used by Marines to move from ship to shore. It has a maximum speed of 45 mph on land and 8 mph in the water.


Navy gets OK to train with sonar

The federal government is giving the Navy a permit to train with sonar in Hawaii waters.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act requires the Navy to seek permission from the National Marine Fisheries Service to carry out activities that may affect marine mammals.

The fisheries service said Monday it will reissue the one-year permit annually for the next five years so long as the Navy follows a list of measures to protect whales and other marine mammals.

Scientists say sonar may harm, or in extreme cases kill, marine mammals.

For the past two years, the Pentagon has used another federal law to exempt the Navy from the permit requirements.

The military had said the Navy needed time to study how sonar affects the environment before it sought a permit.


Army investigating soldier's death

The Army has started an investigation into the noncombat death of a Schofield Barracks soldier from North Texas who had been in the Army for less than a year and who died in Iraq on Sunday.

The Pentagon reported yesterday that Pvt. Sean P. McCune, 20, of Euless, Texas, died in Samarra of injuries suffered in a noncombat-related incident. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. The Army did not say how McCune was killed.

McCune had enlisted in the Army in April and was assigned to the 3rd Brigade three months later. The 3rd Brigade deployed to Iraq in October. It was the 3rd Brigade's second killed soldier since leaving Wahiawa.