At Sea - It has been another action packed week on board HIGGINS. The transit from San Diego to Hawaii for RIMPAC 2012 was filled with events both for training and morale, some managing to accomplish both at the same time.
Recently USS HIGGINS met up in the Pacific Ocean with a Multi National Task Force, comprised of US Navy and Coast Guard vessels, as well as ships from Chile, Japan and Canada, as they sailed west towards the Hawaiian Islands for the Rim of the Pacific 2012 exercise. RIMPAC, as it has been affectionately referred to since 1971, is the largest international maritime exercise in the world. Eight ships in all sailed across the high seas in formation, conducting maneuvering exercises, live fire events and simulated combat actions.
The highlight of the transit was a live fire exercise using fast maneuvering high speed remote control boats that simulated enemy attack craft inbound. The Royal Canadian Navy provided two 12' remote operated power boats, referred to as “Hammerheads” that are similar to craft that could be encountered in littoral seas worldwide. The Hammerheads have the capability to travel at speeds in excess of 40 knots with a profile low to the water that makes sighting and targeting difficult. Each ship was given the opportunity to fire her main and auxiliary batteries against the Hammerhead boats using the latest offensive and defensive tactics. HIGGINS was, aptly so, “first to fight,” and Gunner’s Mate Second Class David Bauer, Gunner’s Mate Second Class Johanna Castenada and Fire Controlman Third Class Tori Rasmussen were credited with three confirmed hits with the Mark 45/5” gun, as well as impressive suppressive fire by Gunner’s Mate Second Class Alejandro Guerrero on the Mark 38/25mm chain gun and Fire Controlman First Class Don Ollerton and Gunner’s Mate First Class Brian Taylor on the .50 caliber machine guns. Multiple direct hits were scored by all the units, resulting in the Hammerhead being disabled, catching fire, and ultimately sinking, as following ships USCGS BERTHOLF and HMCS ALGONQUIN opened fire.
The Multi National Force sailing from San Diego, under tactical command of Commander, Destroyer Squadron 23, arrived in Pearl Harbor well-primed to execute their portions of the RIMPAC 2012 exercise.