This post has been updated to include a statement from the U.S. Navy.
The Marine Corps recently suspended a two-star general as it continues an investigation into last year’s fatal Amphibious Assault Vehicle accident that left eight Marines and one sailor dead.
During a hearing in front of the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee today, Marine Corps assistant commandant Lt. Gen. Gary Thomas told lawmakers that Maj. Gen. Robert Castellvi, who recently became the service’s inspector general, had been suspended. Castellvi led the 1st Marine Division when an AAV sank in the waters near San Clemente Island during training last July.
Meanwhile, the Navy announced today that it recently launched its own investigation into the AAV accident.
A Marine Corps spokesman told USNI News after the hearing that Castellvi was suspended last week at the order of Commandant Gen. David Berger.
“The Commandant of the Marine Corps suspended Maj. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi from serving as the Inspector General of the Marine Corps pending the outcome of the investigation led by Lt. Gen. Mundy into the formation of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The suspension occurred late last week,” Capt. Andrew Wood said in a statement. “The announcement was made by the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps during a testimony hearing on 3 May. The Acting IGMC is Mr. Carlyle E. Shelton, Jr. Maj. Gen. Castellvi has not been reassigned at this time.”
Castellvi’s suspension came to light today when Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) asked for the name of the officer who oversaw the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s readiness at the time of the AAV’s sinking.
“The commander of 1st Marine Division at the time would have been responsible for the initial readiness of the division units forming the ground combat element, as would the wing commander be responsible for the aviation units, and the Marine logistics group commander be responsible for the logistics units that composited together to form the subordinate elements of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit,” Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, the Marine Corps’ staff director, told lawmakers.
Thomas confirmed that Castellvi led the division when the accident took place and that he had been suspended. Castellvi’s suspension comes as the Marine Corps continues a recently-opened probe into the 15th MEU to better understand its development and training leading up to the July 30 accident.
The Marine Corps in late March unveiled the results of its investigation into the AAV’s sinking, which happened during a joint training drill between the 15th MEU and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group. That investigation concluded that a series of training and readiness issues, including AAVs in subpar condition, led to the accident that killed nine service members.
In addition to the ongoing Marine Corps investigation into the 15th MEU, the Navy is probing its own role in the accident, according to Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener. Kitchener, who leads Naval Surface Forces, told lawmakers today that the Navy would wrap up its investigation in the next 30 days.
“The Navy cooperated fully with the Marine Corps in the investigation and provided access to records, logs and many witnesses. And when we reviewed the investigation, we agreed with the fundamental conclusions that there were no causal factors attributable to the Navy. However, what we did find left a few questions unanswered,” Kitchener told the panel.
To address this, the Navy assembled a group that includes civilians and personnel from both services to perform its investigation, Kitchener said.
“So we decided to open our own investigation to understand what actions and decisions that Navy personnel made that day could have contributed to the tragedy. And then what policies and practices may…