Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. -- The sounds of a 70-ton tracked machine interrupts the usual soothing sounds of Onslow Beach, March 1, 2013.
Marines with Alpha Company, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division rehearsed amphibious assaults with the help of sailors with Naval Beach Party Team 3, Beach Master Unit 2.
Amphibious training is critical to the special role which the Marine Corps and its tank operators fill.
“Marines are a force in readiness and we’re also an amphibious force,” he added. “Just because we are in a tank, which is a massive land monster, doesn’t mean we’re not amphibious. We have to be able to get on to a ship so it can take us where we need to go. Then land on a beach where we can provide the fire power to the Marines on the ground,” said Sgt. Christopher Pickens, a tank commander with Alpha Co., 2nd Tanks.
The sailors with BMU-2, based out of Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va. arrived via a Landing Craft Utility.
The tank operators practiced loading and unloading the tanks on the LCU which has the capability of transporting two tanks from the shore to a ship and vice versa.
“We were doing what we call ‘water operations.’ We’re training on how to get on and off an LCU so that we can then have the LCU take us on to a ship,” said Pickens, a Los Angeles native.
Alpha Co. drilled the loading and unloading of all their tanks at least twice.
“There’s a lot of different factors that go into it, there’s guiding into the LCU itself, where I’m getting guidance from the crew of the LCU and I’m talking to my driver,” said Pickens. “There’s got to be a lot of trust between the crew so that we can do this safely.”
Both the Navy and the Marine units appreciated the training. Due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the Marine Corps has focused more on desert, mountain and urban warfare for the last 12 years.
“Overall I think this is good training, we don’t get to do it all that often, out here we haven’t in the last few years,” Pickens said. “It’s definitely a perishable skill and it’s something that we, as the Marine Corps, need to practice; being an amphibious force in readiness.”