The amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on its final deployment on July 27, 2011.

The amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on its final deployment on July 27, 2011. (Daniel Barker/U.S. Navy)

An 11-day military exercise by the U.S. and Japan ended with the sinking of a decommissioned warship in the North Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Pacific Fleet announced Monday.

The forces involved in Valiant Shield sank the former amphibious transport dock USS Cleveland more than 40 nautical miles from the nearest land, according to the fleet statement posted on its website.

The exercise involved 10,000 U.S. and Japanese troops in Japan and on Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and Palau. It began June 7 and officially ended Tuesday.

Pacific Fleet officials did not respond Tuesday to phone calls and emails asking exactly where the drill happened or how the warship was sunk.

“A SINKEX generally involves air, surface, and undersea military units conducting live-fire training against a physical target,” the fleet statement reads.

The exercise involved all six branches of the American military, including more than 20 surface ships and 200 aircraft, U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Chris Loundermon said by email Monday.

“SINKEXs give participants an opportunity to gain proficiency and confidence in their weapons and systems through realistic training that cannot be duplicated in simulators,” the fleet’s statement said.

Target ships are sunk in compliance with U.S. environmental rules to minimize potential harm to the environment, according to the statement. The vessels are cleaned, fuel is drained from their tanks and pipes and hazardous materials are removed.

The Cleveland was commissioned in 1967 and saw service in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War as well as in the Middle East during the Iraq War before it was decommissioned in 2011.

In May, U.S., Philippine and Australian troops sank a disused oil tanker 10 miles off the northwest coast of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon with artillery, rockets, missiles, bombs and machinegun fire.

Another sinking exercise is planned during this summer’s RIMPAC, touted by the U.S. Navy as the world’s largest international maritime exercise. That drill kicks off June 27 and runs through Aug. 1.

author picture
Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now