News: Floating tanks: Bridge Co., 2nd Tanks partner for training exercise
Story by Lance Cpl. Shawn Valosin
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Marines with Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group conducted a longitudinal rafting operation here, Oct. 17, to transport 10 vehicles and numerous Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division across the New River.
Marines with Alpha and Bravo Companies, 2nd Tanks had to cross the New River in order to conduct their semi-annual qualification at Range SR-10, the only range sanctioned here for the M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank 120 mm cannon.
“Using the rafts makes it a lot easier on us, because we don’t have to drive all the way around base,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher Brown, a weapons repairman with Bravo Company, 2nd Tanks. “The rubber pads on the bottom of the track tend to wear down when we’re driving on paved roads.”
The raft consisted of five interior bays and two ramp bays, which can bear up to 150 tons or two tanks at one time. The raft is pushed across the water by two MK III Bridge Erection Boats, which are attached to the raft by ropes, that slowly steer the raft across the water.
The operation served as a training tool for newer Marines in addition to accomplishing the 2nd Tank Bn. mission faster and more cost efficient.
“If we want to drive through Sneads Ferry, we have to put tanks on a big tractor trailer, which is expensive,” said 1st Lt. Matt Donelan, a platoon commander with Alpha Company, 2nd Tanks. “It costs less to travel by raft and we can do it internally through the Marine Corps, and get all our tanks across the river.”
Exercises don’t always go as planned; therefore Marines with Bridge Co. always come prepared. Extra boats and improved ribbon bridges are always at the ready, and a safety boat follows the raft to ensure the waterways are clear for the operation and to help the raft stay ashore when loading or unloading cargo.
“A big challenge we face out here is boats breaking down,” said Sgt. Garrett Burns, the operations noncommissioned officer with Bridge Co. “Boats also use up a lot of fuel when moving rafts around all day.”
Bridge Co. has also started training as though in a deployed environment to continue with the “train as we fight” mantra of the Corps. Marines wore flak jackets and Kevlar helmets, and carried their service rifles with them. The MK III Bridge Erection Boats were also outfitted with M240B machine guns to provide simulated security throughout the exercise.