The decommissioned former USS Rodney M. Davis is hit and sunk during the Rim of the Pacific exercise in waters near Hawaii, July 12, 2022.

The decommissioned former USS Rodney M. Davis is hit and sunk during the Rim of the Pacific exercise in waters near Hawaii, July 12, 2022. (U.S. Navy)

This summer’s Rim of the Pacific will include the maritime exercise’s largest-ever humanitarian aid and disaster relief drills and the sinking of a decommissioned U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship.

The disaster-relief portion will involve eight countries, five ships, five landing craft, five aircraft and more than 2,500 participants, the Navy said in a news release Wednesday.

Those drills will include support from the Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management Coalition, the Defense Department’s Honolulu-based Center for Excellence in Disaster Management, the University of Hawaii’s Pacific Disaster Center, USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, and Singapore’s Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Coordination Centre, the Navy said in a Wednesday news release.

This year’s RIMPAC will include the sinking of a vessel that was formerly designated USS Tarawa, the EurAsian Times newspaper reported Tuesday.

A Defense Department official contacted Wednesday by Stars and Stripes declined to speak on the record about the Tarawa report but confirmed that the ship, which was towed into Pearl Harbor several weeks ago, would be used in a sinking exercise.

RIMPAC, touted by the U.S. Navy as the world’s largest international maritime exercise, kicks off June 27 and runs through Aug. 1.

Forty ships from nearly 30 nations are slated to participate in the exercise on and around the Hawaiian Islands.

The biennial exercise, which has been held 29 times since it began in 1971, will also include three submarines, 14 land-based units, more than 150 aircraft and about 25,000 personnel.

Aircraft will include F-35 Lightning II fighter jets, P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance planes and V-22 Osprey tiltrotors, which will operate out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Oahu.

Participating armed forces are coming from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The sinking of obsolete ships during RIMPAC has become routine.

During RIMPAC in 2022, units from Australia, Canada, Malaysia and the U.S. sank a decommissioned U.S. Navy frigate, formerly designated as USS Rodney M. Davis.

Four years ago, ships and aircraft sank a decommissioned U.S. Navy amphibious cargo ship that was formerly designated USS Durham as a finale to the exercise.

This year’s target, The former USS Tarawa was commissioned in 1976 and named for the Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific during World War II.

It deployed U.S. Marines to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield against Iraq in 1991.

The ship later supported Operation Iraqi Freedom in the early 2000s. It was decommissioned in 2009.

Among the other drills planned for RIMPAC 2024 are “multi-domain warfare in a range of scenarios from anti-submarine warfare, multi-ship surface warfare, multinational amphibious landings, and multi-axis defense of the carrier strike group against live forces,” the news release states.

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Wyatt Olson is based in the Honolulu bureau, where he has reported on military and security issues in the Indo-Pacific since 2014. He was Stars and Stripes’ roving Pacific reporter from 2011-2013 while based in Tokyo. He was a freelance writer and journalism teacher in China from 2006-2009.

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