CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Standing on the edge of a cliff, looking 50 feet down into a dirt-filled gorge is a place most people would stay far away from, but Marines and Royal engineers from the British 54 Commando Squadron decided that would be a nice spot to build a bridge. Marines from Bridge Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group and Marines from 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division along with their British engineer counterparts built a medium girder bridge across a large gap at Gold Beach training area aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 21, 2015.
Cpl. Jeffrey Rubley, a bridgemaster with 1st Platoon, Bridge Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, took charge in the operation to build this particular bridge.
“The bridge is a 12-bay, double-story medium girder bridge,” said Rubley. “It was actually acquired from the British so today we worked with them on building it and the whole thing turned out to be a good experience for us.”
Rubley described some of the bridge’s capabilities and attested to its ease of use and reliability.
“The MGB can support up to 70 military load capacity, so basically something as big as an M-1 Abrams Tank,” said Robley. Bridge Co. can lay down an MGB, conduct the movement across the bridge and get it broken back down in just a matter of a few hours.
The MGB can be built to several different variations, each having their unique capabilities and limits. Depending on the variation built the bridge can span 13 ft. wide and up to 250 ft. in length. There’s even a floating variation designed for safe travel across bodies of water or areas with fluctuating water levels.
The MGB is typically built with little heavy equipment involvement other than the transport to location. The recommended manpower to assemble such a bridge without HE support is about 40 people.
Robley said an engineer company would use such a bridge to increase mobility for units that are trying to move troops and equipment to a specific objective.
“For example in Afghanistan we would use MGBs to cross rivers or open areas that had terrain our vehicles couldn’t quite overcome,” said Robley.
First Platoon’s commander, 2nd Lt. Lorna Lynott said she was glad to see this kind of training come into play during exercise Black Alligator.
“Exercise Black Alligator is an annual large-scale exercise we do with the British that covers all aspects of a large military operation,” said Lynott. “For us [Bridge Co.] it involves a lot of engineer exercises that test both of our knowledge and capabilities.”
Lynott said the bridge build went smooth working with the Brits and provides a good opportunity for her Marines to learn important skills from the joint training.
“It’s kind of rare we get to work with other nations so when we do we try to get the most from it,” said Lynott. “We’ve learned a lot from them and they’ve learned a lot from us so I’m looking forward to the rest of Black Alligator.”
Rubley specified that he was impressed with the Brits’ work ethic and attitude towards completing a task.
“They just keep pushing, they don’t complain and it’s good when we get to work with other people like that,” said Robley.
For the rest of Exercise Black Alligator, the Marines of Bridge Co. and the 54 Commando Royal Engineers will be heading out to Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms where they will work together to build even bigger bridges and solid working relationship between allies.