A civilian-owned vehicle incurred major damage in an accident outside Fort Stewart on Tuesday when it hit a 70-ton main battle tank crossing the road.
The tank was crossing Georgia highway 119 on Fort Stewart during operations related to the upcoming Marne Focus exercise when the sport utility vehicle drove past road guards and collided with the crossing tank, according to a statement from Fort Stewart Hunter Army Airfield.
“The SUV sustained significant damage, while the tank was only scratched on one of its rear tail lights,” the statement said. “Thankfully, no one was injured in the accident.”
“Please be alert and watch for the road guards and flashing tank crossing signs, as well as the 70-ton tanks that will only be scratched if hit by a car,” the statement added.
The base did not provide any additional details about the incident, leaving the public to their own explanations. Hundreds of comments have been posted in response to Fort Stewart’s Facebook post.
The base did not reveal which tank was involved, although it was likely to be an M1 Abrams, which ranges from 67 to 73 tons depending on variant and specifications.
The annual Marne Focus exercise is will begin March 10 at Fort Stewart and conclude March 15, prompting travel delays due to the prevalence of tanks and other military vehicles that cross roadways at all hours of the day.
Fort Stewart issued a travel advisory on Tuesday, warning local drivers to find an alternate route or expect delays of up to 30 minutes.
“The greatest concern to drivers will be military vehicles crossing highways – including 70-ton main battle tanks – at any time, day or night, at designated locations. Seventy tons is roughly the weight of 10 African elephants,” the advisory said.
“Military vehicle crossings are clearly marked with signs and flashing amber warning lights. Soldiers wearing reflective vests and holding flashlights will man crossings. The Soldiers will use hand and arm signals to stop traffic. Military vehicles will cross once traffic is stopped. After the military vehicles cross, the Soldiers will remove dirt and debris from the road,” the advisory explained.
The advisory features infographics showing tanks alongside 10 elephants, accompanied by the text: “Tanks are big, heavy, & won’t budge when hit.”
The exercise tests the readiness of the 3rd Infantry Division’s combat team for a training event.
The 3rd Infantry is the Army’s only mechanized infantry division on the east coast.
The division was activated in 1917 to support World War I efforts with additional combat power. It deployed to France where it fought against the German army alongside the Marne River during the Second Battle of the Marne, thus earning its nickname “Rock of the Marne.”