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Marines are putting armored vehicles on top of a ship to fend off Iranian attack boats

An AH-1Z Viper helicopter attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) takes off during a strait transit aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and the 11th MEU are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck/Released)
August 16, 2019

The U.S. Navy and Marines are protecting patrolling U.S. amphibious assault ships using an uncommon tool at sea — armored vehicles.

Using an armored vehicle on the ships’ deck is one of the creative solutions to the threat of enemy drone and small boat attacks have been put into action by the U.S. military in light of the recent uptick in aggressive action by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, according to a report by Military Times on Thursday.

One of the tactics is to utilize a Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) on the ship’s deck because the LAVs “have better sensors than the ship does to detect small incoming boats,” said Maj. Gen. David Coffman, director of expeditionary warfare. The ships typically relied on aircraft, but now they’re getting more creative to combat new threats, Coffman explained.

Members of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) were photographed sailing through the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf this week with a Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) on the flight deck, reported Military.com.

“The armored vehicle can be seen in the background of photos released by the Marine Corps on Wednesday, showing AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters flying off the amphibious assault ship Boxer. The LAV was first spotted by Phil Ewing, national security editor at NPR,” Military.com noted.

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This isn’t the first time the 11th MEU has turned to land vehicles to defend the Boxer.

The USS Boxer and the 11th MEU were responsible for jamming an Iranian drone that flew in range of the ship last month.

“Marines were able to take down the Iranian drone last month by using a weapon system that fits onto a pair of small MRZR all-terrain vehicles. The system is equipped with high-power sensors and jamming technology, which the Marines used when the drone got too close to the ship,” the report stated.

Other ships have also used a LAV on their deck to support a ship’s defense.

In September 2018, the USS Wasp and the 31st MEU used a LAV on the flight deck while conducting a training exercise in the highly disputed South China Sea, Marine Corps Times reported last year.

“The MEU’s weapons company fired the LAV’s M242 chain guns and coaxial M240C medium machine guns at simulated targets in the ocean during the exercise,” the Times reported.