USS Boxer Leaves on Delayed Deployment, First for Marine Amphibious Combat Vehicle

April 1, 2024 7:14 PM - Updated: April 2, 2024 1:24 PM
U.S. Marines assigned to Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/5, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, maneuver an Amphibious Combat Vehicle into a security position during an amphibious raid mission walk-through at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, March 21, 2024. US Marine Corps Photo

The post has been updated to correct comments made by assistant commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Christopher Mahoney on the ACV deployment on USS Boxer (LHD-4).

THE PENTAGON – Amphibious warship USS Boxer (LHD-4) departed from San Diego, Calif., on Monday for a delayed deployment with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, two defense officials confirmed to USNI News.
Boxer left San Diego Bay in the early afternoon with sailors manning the rails, according to photos from ship spotters. The big deck is the flagship of the three-ship Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, which includes USS Somerset (LPD-25) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49).

The deployment will be the first for the Marines with their Amphibious Combat Vehicle, the successor to the retired Assault Amphibious Vehicle.

The ACVs were originally scheduled to deploy with the Makin Island ARG from the West Coast in 2022, but the Marine Corps delayed the deployment after the vehicles tipped over in the surf during training in California. The Marines determined the crews needed additional training and certifications. The service then planned to deploy the ACVs with the Bataan ARG from the East Coast last year, but once again delayed the schedule.

Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Christopher Mahoney told USNI News in January that the ACVs were going to deploy on the Boxer ARG.

“We have a very detailed checklist to get that platform back into unprotected waters, and we’re working on that,” Mahoney said.
“[ACVs] will deploy with the 15th MEU and then become part of the Okinawa contingent once they get out there.”

The departure of Boxer from San Diego comes after Somerset deployed in January ahead of the rest of the ARG. Initially, defense officials have told USNI News, Harpers Ferry and Boxer were set to join Somerset for a series of exercises in the Western Pacific, including amphibious drills with Thailand in the Cobra Gold exercise series.

Harpers Ferry deployed on March 19 from San Diego, according to ship spotters. That day the Marines posted images on social media platform X of ACV certification training aboard the ship. Additional images show ACVs swimming aboard Harpers Ferry.

Boxer has been in and out of San Diego over the last month while Marines continued slowly bringing their MV-22B Ospreys fleet back into operation after a three-month grounding.

There were no V-22s visible on Boxer’s flight deck when the ship left on Monday.

The 15th MEU announced on March 22 that the unit started training to bring Ospreys back into operations.

Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165 (Reinforced) flew drills in Camp Pendleton simulating landings on a big deck amphibious ship with Marines from the Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/5.

“VMM-165 (Rein.) and the 15th MEU will continue to conduct progressive training events over the coming weeks, both ashore and at sea,” reads the March 22 statement.

Last year, Boxer was the subject of at least two command investigations that found major deficiencies in its engineering department. Investigators found that poorly disciplined sailors were responsible for several engineering breakdowns. It’s unclear whether the poor performance of the engineering department contributed to the deployment delay. Two defense officials told USNI News that the material condition of Boxer was a major factor in the split deployment of the ARG that required Somerset to deploy alone.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Follow @samlagrone

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox