The last of the US Marine Corps M88 recovery vehicles used at Camp Lejeune were loaded on train rails destined for Anniston Army Depot, Alabama, in what is the latest move as part of the service’s tracked vehicle divestment program.
“The M1A1 Abrams and associated vehicles, such as the M88A2 HERCULES, are to be divested to make our force small, faster, and more lethal in the littorals,” said Capt. Jeremy Kuttkuhn, company commander, Ordnance Maintenance Company, 2nd Maintenance Battalion.
The HERCULES, or heavy equipment recovery combat utility lifting extraction system, is a 70-ton behemoth designed to repair and extract vehicles while under fire in combat. It has seen action most noticeably in the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the War in Afghanistan.
The M88A2 employs an auxiliary power unit to provide electrical and hydraulic power when the main engine is not operating. It can also be used to “slave-start” other vehicles, provide power for hydraulic impact wrenches, and refuel or de-fuel other Marine Corps vehicles as required. The M88 series of vehicles can even refuel M1A1 Abrams tank variants from its own fuel reserve.
“The M88s lift for both NATO and American forces. Not only do they recover tanks, but they [also] recover vehicles, including wheeled assets… offload LCU’s on the beach… and much more,” Said Maj. Gilbert L. Woods Jr., the operations officer of 2nd Maintenance Battalion.
Kuttkuhn explained that his unit regularly performed maintenance on the M88s/M88A2s returning from deployment. Around 2007, the M88A2 became a permanent part of Marine expeditionary unit support teams. 2nd Maintenance Battalion has been at the forefront of intermediate level maintenance and tracked vehicle recovery for the Marine Corps tanks since its establishment as a battalion-level command.
These vehicles are en route to Anniston Army Depot for rebuilding, refitting, and eventual utilization by the US Army.