Every two years,
thousands of Sailors from the allied countries in the Pacific theater
converge on Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.
For RIMPAC 2004, more
than 18,000 personnel onboard submarines and surface ships from the
United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea and
Chile tested their capabilities in a collaborative maritime effort. The
naval assets for RIMPAC 2004 included four U.S. Pacific Fleet
nuclear-powered attack submarines, USS Key West (SSN-722), USS Louisville
(SSN-724), USS Charlotte (SSN-766), and USS Olympia
(SSN-717)), four allied-force diesel submarines, and the nuclear-powered
aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74). Approximately 100
aircraft also participated in the month-long exercise.
According to CAPT
Russ Janicke, Deputy Commander of Submarine Squadron 3, this year’s
RIMPAC provided an excellent opportunity for gaining anti-submarine
warfare (ASW) experience for the submarines and ships involved. “It’s
particularly good for our submarines, because we get to interact with
some of the allied diesel boats. Four of them are here for the exercise
this year. It’s very unique, because it [the exercise] only happens every
two years, and this is one of the larger RIMPACs we have had in a long time,”
Since RIMPAC occurs
on a regular basis, past experience and present-day issues are used to
develop realistic scenarios for all participants. “We try to take lessons
learned, and as we gear up for the exercise, we try to integrate those
lessons and any new technology that has emerged. The most important thing
about RIMPAC is just sitting down and talking to fellow Sailors and
officers from the allied navies about tactics and phases of the exercise;
we learn an awful lot,” Janicke said.
changes, the Submarine Force has changed along with it and has
increasingly adopted COTS developments, which have made real-time
decision-making among submarine, surface and air assets a reality. “COTS
technology is a key part in this RIMPAC 2004. I look back to the RIMPAC
of 2000 I participated in as Commanding Officer of USS Louisville
and we didn’t have that. My ability to interact was pretty limited. In
the four years since then, we have made huge advances in COTS
communication, sonar, and fire control technology,” said Janicke.
In addition to
incorporating the latest warfighting technology, the inherent stealth of
the participating allied diesel submarines represented a key element of
real world threats for the various vessels in the exercise.
According to Janicke,
“COMSUBPAC plays a key role in RIMPAC. There has been a reinvigoration of
ASW. The submarines are important since they play both aggressor and
hunters to provide training platforms toward the overall fleet goal of
improving ASW. With three of our nuclear-powered attack submarines and
four allied diesel submarines, that’s far more than we’ve had in past
exercises. It really challenges the various forces to be able to handle
that undersea threat, and it ties in very well with our fleet goal of
improving our ASW capability.”
Because the allied
naval forces have had the opportunity to incorporate the use of so many
different assets, including diesel submarines, the ultimate result of
their experiences will be measured when the time comes to put their
efforts forth in a coalition force.
“Our biggest goal is
to increase interoperability and communications with our allied forces.
One of the most important aspects of completing RIMPAC is that we have
the ability, on relatively short notice, to work with any of our allies.
It becomes a real force multiplier,” said Janicke.
The navies are
teaming together to employ lessons learned in the Global War on Terrorism
while honing warfighting skills to continue the fight, said high-level
naval leaders at the June 29 press conference. “That’s a significant part
of this exercise,” said Vice Adm. Michael J. McCabe, Commander, U.S.
THIRD Fleet and RIMPAC Commander, Combined Task Force. “It always has
been, and it’s never been more important than now.”
In terms of overall
effectiveness, Janicke is convinced that no matter what, the esprit de
corps among the allied naval participants is so strong that their
combined efforts will be able to deal effectively with anything that
threatens the use of sea-lanes and the citizens of the allied countries.
“As I watched as one of the allied submarines came in to Pearl Harbor, I
was thinking about the Global War on Terrorism. It convinces me that
those guys [terrorists] are never going to win. We have some pretty good
friends and they’re willing to help us out.”
JOC Rush is the Force
Journalist serving under Commander, Naval Submarine Forces.