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Sink exercise takes down retired frigate near Guam

Sink exercise takes down retired frigate near Guam

By LEON COOK | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 14, 2016

A decommissioned guided-missile frigate went down in about 30,000 feet of water Tuesday during a SINKEX drill connected to Valiant Shield exercises underway near Guam.

A number of Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps ships and air squadrons used gunfire and air-to-surface missiles to sink the USS Rentz, which was retired in 2014 after nearly 30 years of service, a Navy statement said.

“This exercise provided an important opportunity for realistic at-sea training with live ordnance in a blue water environment,” Rear Adm. Brian S. Hurley, the U.S. Pacific Fleet Valiant Shield exercise lead, said in the statement. “This event refined our ability to work together seamlessly as a joint force to achieve a very specific training objective.”

Rentz is credited with intercepting 14,000 pounds of cocaine during narcotics operations in 2003, and with the rescue of 90 Ecuadorian citizens from a distressed ship in 2005.

Many servicemembers and veterans shared their sadness about the Rentz’ demise in a Facebook group dedicated to the frigate.

“The Rentz was by far the greatest command I have ever been a part of, and was very good to me,” a commenter said. “Many of my happiest Navy memories transpired within the skin of that ship.”

Former Navy vessels used in sinking exercises undergo rigorous cleaning to minimize environmental impact, and the area where the ship went down is thoroughly surveyed to ensure marine life will not be harmed, the statement said.

Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, have made efforts in the past to force stricter environmental standards for SINKEX ships. The Environmental Protection Agency determined in 2014 that the exercises do not pose an “unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment.”

cook.leon@stripes.com

A harpoon missile is fired from the guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold during a sink exercise on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, in the Philippine Sea. The target was the frigate USS Rent, which was retired in 2014 after about three decades of service.
DEVEN ELLIS/U.S. NAVY

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