An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Photo Information

Participants prepare to launch their makeshift boats during the Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch’s inaugural bathtub boat race Nov. 21 at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Seven teams assigned to the AVTB, a subordinate unit of Marine Corps Systems Command, were challenged to build boats out of scavenged and recycled materials.

Photo by Wil Williams

Marine engineers get creative in inaugural bathtub race

26 Nov 2014 | Wil Williams, MCTSSA Marine Corps Systems Command

Marine Corps Systems Command’s Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch was the venue for some resourceful marine engineering during its inaugural bathtub race.


The bathtub race—spearheaded by AVTB’s Operations Officer Wil Wright to generate creativity and healthy competition among the branch’s seven sections—required each of AVTB’s sections to design and build a makeshift boat from scratch.


“No money was allowed to be spent on the design or building of the boats,” said Lt. Col. Robert Bailey, AVTB’s director. “The rules required the teams to scavenge, dumpster dive, re-purpose, borrow and otherwise scrounge materials to build the watercraft.” 


According to Bailey, besides enhancing unit cohesion and esprit de corps, the purpose of the event was to have AVTB personnel experience the challenge of designing within constraints, resourcing with only what was readily available, building in accordance with a timeline and successfully launching a functional amphibious system. 


In all, participants built and launched seven boats, sporting everything from recycled water bottles, PVC pipe, shrink wrapped foam and plastic trash barrels to almost anything else that floated. Each boat—manned by two of each team’s foursome— was required to navigate around a section of Camp Pendleton’s Del Mar Boat Basin twice. All of the boats successfully crossed the finish line with AVTB’s engineering section winning the race.


AVTB plays a vital role in the Assault Amphibious Vehicle Survivability Upgrade Program and future systems improvement initiatives, as well as in the development and fielding of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle.  


AVTB expects this event to become an annual tradition.   

Marine Corps Systems Command