News: The Marine Corps' largest test track
Story by Pfc. Samuel Ranney
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - Envision yourself in a combat environment. Hostility in the area is on the rise, and you’re driving a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle when suddenly … the motor burns out, you’re stuck, and quite possibly dead.
Luckily for service members who depend on vehicles such as the MRAP, Production Plant Barstow, Marine Depot Maintenance Command on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, has a test track that puts these life-saving vehicles through a crucible of similar terrain and obstacles it could encounter in a forward-deployed environment.
Built in 1999, the track is designed to enable employees of MDMC to check the performance of every vehicle before it’s put into use, explained Kenny Phillips, the branch head of quality control at PPB, MDMC. Every aspect of the vehicle, from its horsepower to its amphibious capabilities, goes through a battery of tests on the track.
“We test our vehicles on the track daily,” said Phillips, who has been working with the Marine Corps for more than 25 years.
Anything in MDMC’s stock that rolls or is on tracks gets tested, he added. Amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles, Humvees, and a variety of trucks are just some of the vehicles included in the rigorous testing.
Many of the vehicles are returning from deployments or coming from other units, and it’s up to quality control to ensure they’re ready to perform again for future missions, Phillips said.
“The Marine Corps only has two test tracks,” Phillips explained. “Albany (Production Plant Albany, MDMC) has one but ours is much larger.”
The track here has slopes ranging in grade from 30 percent to 60, explained Doug Vandyke, the quality control inspector supervisor on base.
“Just picture a cement NASCAR track with the capabilities to test every aspect of a vehicle’s performance,” said Phillips as he described the track.
The track emulates what the vehicles might actually have to go through in a combat environment. That includes obstacles that simulate trench crossing and it also tests the vehicle’s suspension, pivot points, turning capabilities, brakes, and horsepower.
“Every vehicle has specific standards it needs to uphold,” explained Phillips. “If a vehicle does not meet those standards, it is worked on until it does.”
The Marine Corps isn’t the only service that benefits from the test track, added Gary Worland, the quality control inspection leader.
The Army National Guard, Navy, reserve units, the base fire department and various law enforcement agencies have all used it.
If a Marine is in a combat zone, in one of MDMC’s vehicles, employees here ensure that it will drive, swim or shoot when it needs to, said Phillips.
“Marines' lives depend on the (effort) we put into the quality of the vehicles,” Vandyke added. “We put that second to none.”