A two-star general has been forced out of his job after an investigation found that he should have done more to prepare a unit of Marines that suffered a “preventable” disaster at sea last year that killed nine people. Maj. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, who was suspended from his job as the Marine Corps inspector general in April, will be removed permanently, Capt. Andrew Wood, a Marine spokesman, said in an email. The decision by Gen. David H. Berger, the service’s top officer, will be part of Castellvi’s permanent record and “must be considered if he is evaluated for promotion, retention, or roles of responsibility,” Wood said. “This action typically prevents an officer from being promoted or serving in a role where he/she would be charged with the responsibility of caring for Marines and Sailors,” Wood said.
Investigators found that Castellvi, who at the time of the accident was the commander of the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif., failed to ensure that the Marines had received a required assessment known as a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation before their assignment at sea or that some of them knew how to escape a sinking vehicle. Eight Marines and a sailor from that unit died July 30, 2020, after their 26-ton amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) sank off the coast of California during training. The disaster has become an embarrassment for the Marine Corps, which celebrates its roots as an amphibious force capable of launching raids from Navy ships to contested enemy shores. Family members of the service members killed have decried the slipshod nature of their training, and lawmakers have questioned the Marine Corps’ safety culture.