RIMPAC vessels head out to sea for war games
A U.S. Navy P-3 Orion leads a Japanese P-3 in flight over a bilateral force of U.S. and Japanese ships, which were participating in a 1998 RIMPAC exercise.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Honolulu — Pearl Harbor is being drained of nearly 40 ships as the at-sea portion of the big June 29-to-Aug. 3 Rim of the Pacific exercise gets under way around the Hawaiian Islands.
"Some ships have already departed, and over the next couple of days, we'll shift from the harbor phase to the ‘Schedule of Events' phase, which is essentially the beginning of the period where we will be working at sea," U.S. Navy Cmdr. Charlie Brown, a RIMPAC spokesman, said Monday.
The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz pulled out of Pearl Harbor on Friday, and will be the focal point of submarines probing for weaknesses in surface-ship defenses.
During RIMPAC 2010, according to a U.S. Army War College report, Japanese and South Korean submarines were able to penetrate defenses and directly engage the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan.
Some 25,000 personnel, 40 surface ships, six submarines and more than 200 aircraft from 22 nations are participating in or observing RIMPAC, the world's largest international maritime exercise.
This year's RIMPAC marks "an important step in the projection of power and interoperability between participating nations as the United States begins its strategic shift toward the Pacific region, particularly with regard to China, the region's rising power," said the organization Stratfor, which provides geopolitical analysis.
China, which was not invited, will likely be interested in the U.S. submarine capability on display during the war games, Stratfor said in a report. Submarines from Australia, Canada and South Korea will be in the exercise along with the Pearl Harbor subs Charlotte, Cheyenne and North Carolina.
Russia is participating for the first time, and the Admiral Panteleyev, a destroyer, and Fotiy Krylov, a salvage tug, will be taking part "in a wide range of challenging training events during the next phase of RIMPAC," Brown said.
The Russian ships will work alongside the cruiser USS Port Royal and frigate USS Gary as well as Coast Guard cutter Bertholf. The French frigate FNS Prairial will also exercise alongside the Russian vessels.
"The training events (with Russia) will include a replenishment at sea, a gunnery exercise, communications exercises, as well as tactical maneuvers and helicopter operations," Brown said.
Among the aircraft participating in the exercise, B-52 bombers supported shallow-water mine-laying training events Tuesday at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai and are expected to do so again Thursday, Brown said.
For the first time, a humanitarian assistance disaster relief component is part of RIMPAC. The scenario, culminating July 19-20, involves a major earthquake causing a tsunami that hits a fictional island in the Pacific.
"The scenario provides a realistic, relevant challenge that will facilitate training and certification for expeditionary forces to respond to foreign disasters," Brown said. The event also will aid Hawaii-based medical facilities in their statewide mass casualty drills and certifications, Brown said.