CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Camp Lejeune has miles of woodlands, beaches and rivers that offer diverse training opportunities for the service members stationed here and allow different units to work together to accomplish the mission quicker and more efficiently.
Marines with Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group conducted a longitudinal rafting operation across the New River to transport 15 vehicles and 48 Marines to the ranges March 30 to support a 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division field exercise.
“Rafting is simply faster, more cost efficient and easier than moving the tanks with trucks,” explained Cpl. Eric Maynard, a combat engineer with 8th ESB.
The raft, which takes about an hour to assemble, is pushed across the water by two MKIII Bridge Erection Boats and takes approximately an hour and a half to travel round trip.
“We saved them probably about three-quarters of the time,” explained Staff Sgt. Michael Grant, the operations chief of the Improved Ribbon Bridge Platoon, Bridge Co., 8th ESB. “For one tank to load up, en route and drop off, it takes about three hours. We can cut that in half, and we’re doing two tanks at a time when we’re rafting them.”
The raft consisted of five interior bays, which were each 22.7 feet long, and two ramp bays, which were 22.4 feet long. They can bear up to 150 tons, or two tanks at one time.
“We can do a lot with the rafts,” explained Maynard. “The bays can be put together to form a bridge over a continuous span, and they can even be dropped in by helicopter if road access isn’t available.”
The two MKIII BEBs are attached to the raft by ropes, which are carefully tied by Marines, and 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 quicker.
“As the raft commander, I’m there to remind them to keep a close eye on the ropes and to make sure the boats steer in the right direction,” explained Maynard, a Granite Falls, N.C., native. “It’s great for Marines to stay trained like this due to operations with tanks coming up quite frequently. This trains them to be flexible and on their game.”