This month 26 countries will assemble in U.S. 3rd Fleet area of operation for the 26th Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime exercise. It provides a unique training opportunity, helping participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.
From June 27 to Aug. 2, 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will have active roles in the exercise, spanning from the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands to the Southern California coast.
As the ships arrive in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii leading up to the exercise, they are nested (or moored side by side) three-abreast along the piers. For ground forces, companies of Marines from numerous countries camp out on the windward side of Oahu at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows (Bellows Beach) and Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The size of the exercise is impressive, and the coordination required for such a large influx of personnel equally so.
The planning for RIMPAC begins more than a year before the event, with the final planning conference occurring two months before kickoff. In early April, more than 1,000 personnel attended the conference, where final preparations for the exercise were streamlined across four days. Topics included accommodations, security, logistics, communications, and an evaluation of materiel requirements for the exercise.
During the summer exercise, RIMPAC participants can expect to undergo relevant and realistic training, to include amphibious operations; gunnery, missile, anti-submarine, and air defense exercises; counter-piracy operations; mine clearance operations; explosive ordnance disposal; and diving and salvage operations. These scenarios support the participating nations’ disaster relief and maritime security operations, sea control, and complex warfighting capabilities.
In the past, highlights of the RIMPAC exercises have included a “SINKEX,” where ships, aircraft, and submarines deploy missiles to sink a decommissioned vessel; amphibious assaults; missile shoots; and a multi-national group sail formed by more than 40 ships and submarines, 200 aircraft, and 20,000 personnel.
Through the years the exercise has remained an impressive and remarkable event, and continues to grow. But how did it originate?
The first RIMPAC, held in 1971, was a partnership exercise involving forces from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Australia, Canada, and the United States have participated in every subsequent RIMPAC. Originally, it was an annual event from 1971-1973. In 1974 due to its large scale, the exercise became a biennial event. With each iteration, new countries get added to the roster of participants, further mirroring fleet operations and expanding the impact of the exercise. This year’s exercise will include first-time participants Brazil, Israel, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. As well, several observer nations are invited each year; these countries send military representatives but do not send ships.
The following countries will participate in this year’s RIMPAC:
● United States Navy
● Royal Navy
● Royal Canadian Navy
● Royal Australian Navy
● Royal New Zealand Navy
● French Navy
● German Navy
● Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
● Republic of Korea Navy
● Royal Netherlands Navy
● Philippine Navy
● Royal Thai Navy
● Royal Tongan Navy
● Republic of Singapore Navy
● Chilean Navy
● Peruvian Navy
● Colombian National Navy
● Sri Lankan Navy
● Brazilian Navy
● Vietnamese People’s Navy
● Israeli Navy
● Mexican Navy
● Royal Malaysian Navy
● Indian Navy
● Royal Brunei Navy
● Indonesian Navy
RIMPAC offers an unparalleled opportunity for the world’s maritime forces to build lasting, collaborative relationships in order to maintain readiness on an international scale. Participants have a chance to conduct exercises in ship-sinking and torpedo usage, as well as test new naval technologies and debut naval vessels. Exercises like RIMPAC allow for expanded cooperative maritime relationships which enhance interoperability practices in preparation for being called upon to respond to crisis, whether in time of war or in humanitarian assistance/disaster
To follow RIMPAC, please check out the following social media:
Tomorrow is the big day! The U.S. Navy‘s newest littoral combat ship will be commissioned in a ceremony at at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Pre-commissioning Unit Manchester will come to life as USS Manchester and officially become part of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. We’ve been getting ready for the commissioning by sharing facts about the ship and its namesake city via the Surface Warriors Twitter account this week. Click through the graphics below and get to know a little bit about the future USS Manchester (LCS 14) and the city it’s named for. Then tune in at 10:00 am EST May 26, 2018 and watch the ceremony LIVE at: bit.ly/2J2JrlJ.
Next week will mark the 106th birthday of Marine Corps aviation, an integral piece of the Navy and Marine Corps team’s combat capability. Since 1912, the Marines and the Navy have worked together to support a host of combat and humanitarian aid/disaster relief missions using a variety of platforms.
Most recently, the Navy and Marine Corps team implemented the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, a fifth generation fighter jet with significantly enhanced capabilities, aboard USS Wasp (LHD 1) and USS Essex (LHD 2). The new aircraft replaces the legacy AV-8B Harrier II, which have been deploying on U.S. Navy amphibious ships for more than three decades.
The deployment of the F-35B Lighting II is new, with both Essex and Wasp only months into the integration process with the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). Challenges leading up to their introduction in the Fleet included updating the logistics supply chain for the new aircraft, as well as physically altering the structure of the flight deck to support the additional weight of the F-35B and the increased exhaust temperature they produce.
With stealth capabilities, an increased weapons envelope, increased on station time, longer range, and more accurate weapons delivery, the F-35B is an impactful enhancement to the Marine aviation toolbox. In nearly all ways, the F-35B heralds a new age of aviation capabilities for the Navy and Marine Corps team to launch power ashore from the sea.
In honor of Marine Corps aviation’s history and 106th birthday, let’s take a look at some of the aircraft and pioneering servicemembers that played a major role in developing the Marine Corps aviation element into what it is today.
The Marines’ first pilots began their training in Annapolis, Maryland; 1st Lieutenant Alfred A. Cunningham reported to the aviation camp on May 22, 1912, which is regarded as the birthday of Marine Corps aviation. After just two hours and 40 minutes of instruction on the Curtiss seaplane, he completed a solo flight and was designated Marine Aviator No. 1 (and with that, he also became Naval Aviator No. 5).
Five years later, Cunningham established the Marine Corps Aviation Company onboard the Philadelphia Navy Yard as part of the Advanced Base Force (ABF), which had been established in 1910 as a training command for the Marines. The ABF’s aviation company became the first permanent aviation element in the Marine Corps.
The new Marine pilots, which then included 1st Lieutenant Bernard L. Smith, 2nd Lieutenant William M. McIlvain, 1st Lieutenant Francis T. Evans, and 1st Lieutenant Roy S. Geiger, were the foundation on which Marine aviation was built. Decades later during WWI, Marine Corps aviation found itself split between two missions: anti-submarine patrols in support of the Navy, denying enemy submarines ready access to maritime convoy routes; and reconnaissance and artillery spotting for ground troops in France. These were the pioneering years of what was to become close air support.
In the years between WWI and WWII, Marine aviation grew under the administration of Major General Commandant Lejeune, in both squadron size and aircraft development. During this period of operations, in flight tactics were developed, including dive bombing. In the mid-1920s, Marine squadrons qualified aboard fleet carriers and in 1931, the Pacific Fleet received two scouting squadrons assigned to operate as component units.
By the time of the Pearl Harbor attack (December 1941), Marine aviation had transitioned from the biplane to modern aircraft and included 13 squadrons consisting of 204 aircraft. In training, the Marine pilots grew to become an integral part of amphibious exercises. Marines flew in defense of Navy ships during the Battle of Wake Island, Battle of Midway, and many others thereafter. The Solomons campaign saw Marine Aviation assume the role of overall aviation command, augmented by the Army Air Corps and allied squadrons from Australia and New Zealand, as well as Navy pilots.
F4U’s (Corsairs) returning from a combat mission over North Korea circle the USS Boxer as they wait for planes in the next strike to be launched from her flight deck. A helicopter hovers above the ship. Pulled from: bit.ly/2k9S1B6
Marine aircraft continued to operate with Navy ships during Korean War and Vietnam War, deploying from aircraft carriers and destroyers to conduct both fixed-wing and rotary-wing operations. The F-4U Corsairs of Marine Corps Fighter Squadron 214, flown from USS Sicily (CVE-118), flew the first Marine aviation mission at Pusan during the raid against North Korean installations, and were joined by Marine Fighter Squadron 323, flying from USS Badoeng Strait (CVE-116).
In 1962, the F-4 Phantom entered the Marine Corps, becoming the fastest, highest-flying, longest-range fighter in the U.S. military. The F-4 saw combat in both the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm. And then in 1985, the Marine Corps welcomed the AV-8B Harrier II to its ranks. The Harrier is still used today, although it’s expected to be replaced entirely by the F-35B in coming years.
From its humble beginnings more than a century ago in the Curtiss seaplane to the latest marvel of modern aviation, one thing has remained constant: the collaboration of the Navy and Marine Corps to create a cohesive team that accomplishes a critical warfighting mission at sea, in the air, and on land.
This morning, the San Diego harbor was busy as U.S. Navy warships pulled back into port. The piers were just as engaged with activity as families and loved ones of the crew stood by eagerly awaiting their Sailors’ return, which was especially fitting as today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. On this day, as many of San Diego’s Sailors are reunited with their spouses, we recognize the significant challenges overcome and sacrifices made by those spouses in their absence.
Megan Lisherness is married Drew Lisherness, a Fireman assigned to USS Dewey (DDG 105). Today marked the completion of their first deployment as a couple.
“The hardest part was that I didn’t know anyone here,” said Megan. “My advice to military spouses is talk to people, get out and meet people.”
Megan and her husband Drew met in high school in Kingman, Arizona.
Other spouses on the pier today had already held a few deployments under their belts.
Mandy Noza, wife of Andee Noza, the Antisubmarine Warfare Officer aboard Dewey, stood by with the Noza family.
“He was forward deployed in Japan before this tour, and I stayed here in the states, so this isn’t our first time apart. But this one was harder, although shorter – we had a lot of life changes recently. It was stressful to handle those things by myself, but it made me more independent and stronger.”
The Nozas are both from the San Diego area.
Kim Woelky, wife of Alex Woelke, an Information Technology Specialist First Class on the ship, commented that “every deployment is different. The crew of the Dewey worked hard to keep their tempo, and we are all very proud of our spouses on the ship.” Kim has experienced three deployments with her husband.
Homecomings are in some ways the perfect opportunity to see some reward for the sacrifices military spouses make – Ashley Puga, wife of Humberto Puga, an Electronics Technician First Class, is newly pregnant, and did a gender reveal at the pier in celebration of her husband’s homecoming. This will be their first child.
When commenting on the importance of spouses to our military, Admiral Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations said, “We just could not do our business without our spouses. (They) stand shoulder to shoulder with us. By virtue of the oath that they’ve taken to one another, they are drawn into this oath that we take to support and defend the Constitution.”
His counterpart on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Neller, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps acknowledged in this year’s Military Spouse Appreciation Day message that, “the life of a military family is one of unique challenge and sacrifice coupled with opportunity and experience that most people cannot imagine. No one understands the requirements of this life better than a U.S. Navy spouse. The selfless contribution of our military spouses provides a stability that enables mission and family readiness.”
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed the first proclamation officially recognizing Military Spouse Appreciation Day. This formal recognition showed the importance of the role the military spouse has in the readiness of our military forces. The Department of Defense then standardized the date by declaring the Friday before Mother’s Day every year as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. In 1999, Congress officially made Military Spouse Appreciation Day a part of National Military Appreciation Month.
You need not go further than the waterfront during a homecoming to see that the military spouse exudes grace, strength, and devotion despite the fluid and dynamic environment of military life.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month provides the opportunity to highlight the achievements of our Armed Forces that identify as Asian American and/or Pacific Islander. U.S. Navy ships host namesakes highlighting our heroes, and currently, USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) is the only active commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy named after someone of Asian American and/or Pacific Islander descent. That distinction is about to change. In the coming years, the Navy will christen and then commission USS Daniel K. Inouye (DDG 118), named after the late Senator and former Army Captain Daniel Inouye.
So, who was Daniel Inouye, and what is his legacy?
Inouye was born in Honolulu in 1924 when Hawaii was still just a territory of the United States. His parents had emigrated from Japan, and as a young man in a world where tensions were increasing with Japan, Inouye faced significant discrimination as a Japanese American. Curfews were enforced, and discussions of internment camps in Hawaii were shut down only due to a heavy reliance on Japanese American business within the local economy. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Inouye attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army and was questioned about his patriotism. He was initially prevented from enlisting because of his status as a Japanese American. Instead, Inouye studied pre-medicine at the University of Hawaii. In 1943, when the Army dropped its enlistment ban on Japanese Americans, Inouye dropped his studies and enlisted into the Army as a private.
Daniel Inouye was part of a group of individuals called the Nisei who volunteered, many from internment camps elsewhere in the country. The Nisei was a segregated regimental combat team made up of second generation Japanese Americans. He shipped out to Italy in 1944 and was commissioned in the field as a second lieutenant shortly thereafter. Although his unit earned a reputation well before 1945, Inouye’s most famous moment came that spring.
On April 21, 1945, Inouye was faced with an uphill battle as his unit attempted to take the Colle Musatello Ridge, a German strong point in Northern Italy. He single-handedly used machine guns and grenades to thwart enemy forces under heavy fire, sustaining significant injuries to his right arm. In spite of the crippling wounds, which included a shredded arm, a few bullets through the abdomen, and a bullet through his leg, he refused evacuation, and remained at the head of his platoon until they broke through the enemy and seized the ridge. Inouye’s arm worsened following the battle and surgeons eventually amputated it. His personal losses, however, came with a significant strategic victory for the Allied forces.
In 1947, Inouye retired as a Captain in the U.S. Army. He then finished his studies at the University of Hawaii in 1950, ultimately graduating from law school in 1952.
And although his military service had concluded, his service to country had not.
Following his service in the military, Inouye practiced prosecuting law in Honolulu. Although Hawaii was still just a territory, he was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives in 1952 and the Territorial Senate in 1956. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, he served as the state’s first congressional representative, making him the first Japanese-American in Congress. In 1962, Inouye was elected to the 86th Congress and proceeded to spend the next four decades serving as a Senator from Hawaii, where he also obtained the distinction of being the second-longest serving Senator in the history of the United States. His time as a Senator was marked by supporting the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and Hawaii’s interests in Washington. He played an important role in the Watergate Scandal investigation in 1973 and the Iran-Contra affair in 1987.
Inouye’s legacy is well known throughout Hawaii, heralded as a man of the people. Recently, the Honolulu International Airport was renamed the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The NOAA Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center on Ford Island is also named in his honor. The University of Hawaii’s College of Social Sciences is developing the “Daniel K. Inouye Initiative for Democratic Leadership” program, as well.
Fifty-five years after the battle to take Colle Musatello Ridge, Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions alongside 21 other Asian-American veterans on June 21, 2000.
In 2012, Inouye passed away, leaving behind a wife and one son.
Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated “Americanism is not and has never been a matter of race or color. Americanism is a matter of mind and heart.” Inouye embodied true Americanism, dedicating his lifetime to committed service to the American people. From enlisting in the U.S. Army in spite of intense discrimination, to serving in the U.S. Senate for almost 40 years, Inouye’s legacy is unparalleled.
His legacy will continue on in the crew of USS Daniel K Inouye (DDG 118); no longer limited to the buildings in Hawaii, it will stretch across many oceans, representing our nation’s interests– just as he did 75 years ago.
These type of transitions are identified at the Secretary of Defense strategic level nearly two years prior to the date of transition, or the effective date, and are driven by strategic considerations such as are balancing of naval forces to the Pacific to support additional presence requirements or by readiness concerns, such as in the case of Bonhomme Richard. This ship is scheduled to undergo a major maintenance availability after returning stateside; while all ports have some shipyard capability, fleet concentration areas such as Norfolk and San Diego are best equipped to undertake lengthy and in-depth shipyard work due to resources on hand. Many ships will transition to one of these locations at some point in their lifecycle for major upgrades before returning to the fleet. This is why once a ship is identified, a plan set in place to ensure that, logistically, every aspect of the transition is covered.
For now, Bonhomme Richard will join the ships of San Diego for follow-on operations before eventually beginning the upgrades necessary to become F-35B Lighting II (Joint Strike Fighter) capable. Having recently received upgrades of her own, Milius joins FDNF-J as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet and brings some of the most technologically-advanced warfighting capability to the Indo-Pacific region.
So what exactly happens when entire commands conduct moves of this nature?
Moving to a new area of responsibility for the U.S. Navy fleet presents a significant change in the lifecycle of the ship and crew. The transition not only entails professional change but includes personal change as many Sailors move their families overseas to their new country of assignment.
A team consisting of representatives from Commander, Naval Surface Forces Pacific, Naval Personnel Command (NPC), US Fleet Forces Command (USFFC), and the gaining squadron work together with the ship itself to plan and coordinate on a wide range of personnel and logistical issues.
Each ship will complete the preparations necessary to support the operational mission requirements of the new area of responsibility. Case in point, to prepare for entry into FDNF-J, Milius completed their capstone certification events in engineering; undersea, air, surface, and electronic warfare; and ballistic missile defense. The ship also received major upgrades to its Aegis Combat System, undersea warfare, and electronic warfare suites. In this regard, preparation for a transition to FDNF-J is much like preparation for a standard deployment – in each case, maximizing readiness is the key focus.
For families, the move is a little different when compared to moving under standard Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders. Six months prior to the effective date, families are authorized to begin their move to the new port. At this point, called the promulgation date, entitlements such as housing allowance and cost of living allowance are authorized in the new location. Crew members with dependents are provided this six-month window to allow for flexibility – the families can choose when to move within these limits to account for facts of life such as the beginning or end of a school term.
In fact, many home port changes are planned to occur in the summer to minimize impacts on families with school-age children.
In this six-month window between promulgation date and effective date, families are eligible to receive either duty station’s entitlements, but not both concurrently. At the time of the effective date, entitlements are switched to the new duty station for all crew members and dependents.
Most commands will choose to institute multiple stand-down periods during this window, where a percentage of the crew may move their families to the new port before returning to the ship. However, the command’s training and operational schedule remain the priority.
NPC works with the ship to balance the needs of the Navy with the needs of individual servicemembers. Manning stakeholders work to the best of their ability to accommodate situations like Sailors married to other servicemembers, or those with dependents enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member (EFM) program, while ultimately preserving unit readiness. The end-state is for the Type Commander (in this case, CNSP) to ensure that a newly-arriving ship in FDNF-J meets all manning standards set by USFFC in order to support the operational commander.
This week our nation recognized April 9 as National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day. As with previous administrations, President Trump made the act official via presidential proclamation.
The declaration proclaims the day as an opportunity to pay homage to the courageous warriors who endured time in enemy hands and returned with honor to their families. As well, it reminds us of the continued active engagement former POWs have in their communities.
Though there were many to consider, we chose to highlight William P. Lawrence. He is the namesake of USS William P. Lawrence and embodies the concept of continued service to the utmost. As a former Vietnam conflict prisoner of war who went on to become one of the Navy’s highest ranking officers, Lawrence is the epitome of a true American hero. Vietnam War POW, Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, evaluating then-Captain Lawrence’s performance in captivity, made these remarks:
“The record of his achievement in Hanoi is a chronicle of patriotic loyalty, personal bravery, physical toughness, compassionate aid to his fellows, and inspirational leadership. From the time of his capture he was consistently stalwart and resilient in the absorption of torture from his enemies… He repeatedly paid the price of being perceived by the enemy as a source of their troubles through his ‘high crime’ of leadership… He could not be intimidated and never gave up the ship.”
And Lawrence truly never did give up. His contributions to his country after his return from Vietnam included continued service as the Superintendent and also Chair of Naval Leadership at the U.S. Naval Academy; Commander, U.S. Third Fleet; Deputy Chief of Naval Operations; and Visiting Professional Scholar at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in 1994 (the latter being just 11 years before his death in 2005).
His influence can still be felt today. His daughter, Wendy Lawrence, also a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, went on to become an astronaut, logging over 1,225 hours in space. Lawrence’s poetry, written while he was in Vietnam, included a poem that was designated as the official poem of his home state of Tennessee. Perhaps most lasting, however, is the hard work of the crew of USS William P Lawrence (DDG 110).
USS William P. Lawrence, recently homeported in Hawaii as part of the rebalance of forces to support security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, continues to preserve the Navy’s enduring mission of protecting and defending America through the maritime strategy. Since 2012, William P. Lawrence has conducted Freedom of Navigation operations in the South China Sea, humanitarian aid and rescue assistance at sea, and maritime support during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises. As well, the crew has participated in community service projects in Korea and the Philippines during scheduled port visits. The ship has also been featured in the television show, “The Last Ship.”
William P. Lawrence sails as part of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, and her last deployment was in 2016 as part of the Great Green Fleet Initiative.
The other U.S. naval vessel named after a prisoner of war is USS Stockdale (DDG 106), whose namesake Vice. Adm. James B. Stockdale. Admiral Stockdale also left an indelible mark on the leadership development program at the U.S. Naval Academy and the Navy at large. Check out this Naval Academy website to learn more about Stockdale’s legacy.