An assault amphibious vehicle after exiting the well deck of an amphibious dock landing ship. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Adam Dublinske

  • The Marine Corps has fired another commanding officer in response to the AAV accident last summer.

  • The CO of the expeditionary unit that saw nine troops die in the accident was relieved Tuesday.

  • In October, the Corps relieved the CO of Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines.

  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Marine Corps has fired the commanding officer of the the expeditionary unit that saw nine service members die in an assault amphibious vehicle (AAV) accident last summer, the service said in a statement Tuesday. He is the second senior leader to be fired in response.

Following the completion of a command investigation into the deadly mishap, Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, the head of Marine Corps Forces Pacific relieved Col. Christopher Bronzi, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit commander, on Tuesday due to “a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command.”

Marine Corps Col. Christopher Bronzi

Marine Corps Col. Christopher Bronzi USMC

Col. Fridrik Fridriksson, who previously commanded the 11th MEU, has taken over Bronzi’s command of the 15th MEU, a California-based unit that is currently deployed to the Central Command area of responsibility with the Makin Island Amphibious Readiness Group.

On July 30, 2020, an AAV, a 26-ton tracked amphibious vehicle built to move Marines between ship and shore, sank off the coast of California during a training exercise. Less than half of the 16 service members in the vehicle at the time of the accident survived.

Eight Marines and a Navy sailor assigned to Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines died, making the training incident the deadliest in the nearly five-decade history of the Corps’ AAVs.

The service members killed in the accident were Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, Pfc. Evan A. Bath, Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, and Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem.

In the wake of the accident, the Marine Corps suspended all waterborne operations for its aging fleet of roughly 800 AAVs, all of which were inspected.

Though the command investigation into the accident has been completed, it has not been publicly released. The findings will first be presented to the families of the deceased.

Last October, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, who commands I Marine Expeditionary Force, relieved Lt. Col. Michael Regner, commanding officer of Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, of his command.

Marine Corps Lt. Col. Michael J. Regner

Marine Corps Lt. Col. Michael J. Regner Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jailine L. AliceaSantiago

A Marine Corps statement said that Regner was relieved “due to a loss in trust and confidence in his ability to command as a result of the assault amphibious vehicle mishap that took place off the coast of Southern California.”

Regner took command of Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines in June 2019, and Bronzi, who previously commanded the 1/4, assumed command of the 15th MEU in November that same year.

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