The world’s largest international maritime exercise is currently taking place in and around Hawaii and waters off of Southern California. The Rim of the Pacific exercise, or RIMPAC, began in 1971 with just five participating countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom. This year 26 countries have come together to foster and sustain cooperative relationships critical to ensuring security on the world’s oceans. Their goal is to become “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.”
To help break the ice, a number of ships held receptions to welcome leadership and crew members from other countries aboard their ships to socialize and learn a bit about their host’s culture and traditions. Some of the 25,000 personnel participating in RIMPAC competed in a variety of sporting events such as soccer, volleyball, and basketball to help foster a sense of camaraderie before beginning the intense activities of the shore and sea phases. This initial bonding is designed to help participants build relationships and ultimately become one team striving to complete the mission at hand.
Participating countries, most of which lie in and around the Pacific, quickly began working closely with one another through a series of expert exchanges and training evolutions designed to share how various countries’ forces operate and help partners learn how to function as an integrated team. These activities allow nations to work together in both real and simulated training situations to enhance their interoperability and help ensure the security and stability of the Pacific.
While ships were in port, shore-based activities included a chaplaincy symposium, a panel discussion on Women, Peace and Security during the Maritime Security Symposium, and a multinational Fundamentals of Global Health Engagement Course featuring military and Department of Defense civilian participants. A number of force operations like gun range and small arms demonstrations, amphibious assault vehicle launch and recovery, and amphibious beach assault drills were also conducted during the shore phase.
Now that the ships are underway, at sea activities have included a multiple day mass casualty drill featuring both government and non-government organizations aimed at helping forces learn how to operate together smoothly for future humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations. Other at sea activities include integrated submarine rescue training, more amphibious craft launch and recovery, aircraft cross-decking for launch and landing evolutions on partner ships, anti-submarine warfare, group formation sailing, missile shoots, and the sinking of the now decommissioned frigate USS Thatch (FFG 43).
Following the at sea phase, RIMPAC will formally end with a reception offering partners an opportunity to reflect on their accomplishments and thank one another for their
participation. While RIMPAC only happens every two years it’s an experience participants will take with them for the rest of their lives. Not only are they fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships by participating in the exercise, they’re also building bonds of friendship and goodwill between nations to become the “Capable, Adaptive, Partners” the Pacific needs.
Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet ships participating in RIMPAC include: USS America (LHA 6), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USS Coronado (LCS 4), USS Howard (DDG 83), USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), USS Pinckney (DDG 91), USS Princeton (CG 59), USS San Diego (LPD 22), USS Shoup (DDG 86), USS Stockdale (DDG 106), and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110).