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Corporal Joshua Hutton, raft commander with improved ribbon bridge platoon, Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, guides an M1A1 Abrams tank onto an IRB aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., December 14, 2014. Marines with the unit conducted river crossing exercises in which they transported tanks from Rhode's Point to Wells Point. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Preston McDonald/Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Preston McDonald

Do Tanks really float?

16 Dec 2014 | Lance Cpl. Preston McDonald 8th Engineer Support Battalion

Marines with Improved Ribbon Bridge platoon, Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion conducted river crossing exercises in which they transported M1A1 Abrams tanks across New River aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., December 14.

Over a span of eight trips, the Marines successfully transported 16 tanks from 2nd Tank Battalion from Rhodes Point to Wells Point.

“Our raft we have setup right now can transport two tanks at a time across the river,” said Cpl. Chad Burnett, a combat engineer with 8th ESB.

The raft is comprised of five interior bays and two ramps on each end. There are two boats anchored to each side in order to steer the raft in a designated direction. The raft is capable of being made as long as possible by attaching more bays and may also serve as a bridge if anchored on either side of the waterway.

“It takes about two hours on average to set up the raft,” said Cpl. Joshua Hutton, raft commander for Bridge Company, “We’re capable of deploying our services anytime mobility over a waterway is needed.”

The Marines conduct the training approximately two to three times per month or whenever 2nd Tank Battalion needs to get from one point along the river to another.

“We’re saving the Marine Corps thousands of dollars by transporting the tanks across the river,” said Burnett, a Columbus, Ohio native, “It would cost them a lot more money and gas if the tanks were required to go around and use the trails.”

Marines with 2nd Tank Bn. had previously finished a training exercise and relied on Bridge Company to get them back to where they needed to go. In a matter of hours, the raft was up and running, getting the tanks safely to their destination.

“The skillset behind training is extremely perishable,” said Burnett, “but we do it so often that it has become normal for us.”

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