SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Dave Welch, commander, Task Force 177, Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC), visited the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) led undersea mine countermeasures commander (UMCMC), a subordinate command of CTF 177, July 18. Welch is the mine warfare commander for the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in the Southern California.
This is the first time that an RNZN unit served as the UMCMC in RIMPAC, leading other units from Japan, Canada, the Netherlands and United States.
RIMPAC 2018 marks the largest and most complex mine countermeasures contribution by the RNZN, and serves as a proof of concept deployment for a unit of 50 personnel comprised of a command-and-control element, two clearance diving units, two unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) elements, and a logistics support unit.
During the visit, Welch also hosted RNZN Commodore Tony Millar, maritime component commander who visited with UMCM personnel. Millar also visited CTF 177 in his role as the representative of the Chief of RNZN.
Millar also visited CTF United States and Kiwi personnel underway on board USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), which served as the afloat staging base for the exercise the following day.
CTF 177 is comprised of 26 units with approximately 1,100 personnel representing the United States, Australia, Canada, England, Japan, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. They are conducting advanced mine warfare operations including mine countermeasure operations to support RIMPAC 2018.
Twenty-five nations, 46 ships, five submarines, 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 27 to Aug. 2 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security of the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
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