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CWC 729 test fires M198 Howitzers

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200542111549
Story by Cpl. Ashley Warden

MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. (April 21, 2005) -- "Stand by . fire!" Shouts like this could be heard breaking the early morning silence of Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command Twentynine Palms, Calif. right before the deafening blast of an M198 155mm Howitzer Wednesday.

Ten howitzers, which were refurbished at Maintenance Center Barstow, were put to the test by Kilo Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines.

"We want to make sure the gun is going to work before giving them back to the troops," said Doug Van Dyke, artillery repair supervisor, Cost Work Center 729, Maintenance Center Barstow.

The howitzers came to MCB from units all around the Marine Corps, said Van Dyke. The weapons are on a three-year rotation schedule started by "a pretty sharp individual."

"Once the howitzers are refurbished by MCB they are normally sent to Blount Island Command to Maritime Propositioning Ships, where they will be loaded onto the MPS ships and stand ready in the event a conflict develops where there are needed," he said. "After three years, they will come off the ships and be given to firing units who have howitzers in need of repair. The battered or broken weapons will be traded out for the new ones and sent to Fleet Support Division for inspection and MCB for repair."

Once at MCB, the weapons are completely disassembled and sent to different areas in the Maintenance Center that specialize in the specific part.

"It is a base effort to get the howitzers repaired," said Van Dyke. "Just about every shop out here touches the howitzers."

Once the repairs are complete, the weapons are taken to MAGTFTC Twentynine Palms and are tested to see if they meet the parameters set forth by the Depot Maintenance Work Requirements.

"When we test we look for several things," he said. "We look at the overall cycle time of the recoil, the speed of the recoil during the last six inches of movement as it enters battery, how far the recoil travels to the rear, pounds of force against the recoil rods and a few other details in the recoil's performance."

Overall, the program has been a success at MCB.

"The whole program of sending the howitzers to the MPS ships then to cycle them through the firing batteries was a huge success," said Van Dyke. "It kept a constant turn around going for the Marines and provided a steady refurbishment program here at the Maintenance Center. The rewards to a constant program are many. You are addressing parts issues before they become a problem, you maintain a skilled work force, a fresh supply of howitzers are available each year avoiding dry rotted seals and the need to perform first and second echelon maintenance on the howitzers while they are in storage are but a few of the positive things that came out of this program."

Now that the new M777 Lightweight Howitzer is being fielded the current M198 Howitzer will be slowly discontinued and will be totally gone by FY 2010, he said.


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