Surface Warfare Magazine
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Building Relationships RIMPAC 2018

The Rim of the Pacific Exercise, the world’s largest international maritime exercise, brought 25 nations, 46 ships, five submarines, 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel together from June 27 to Aug. 2 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California to train and to foster and sustain cooperative relationships to ensure the safety of sea lanes and the security of the world’s oceans. Participating nations and forces exercised a wide range of capabilities and demonstrated the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program included amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as counter-piracy operations, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal, and diving and salvage operations.

“The purpose of these operations is to increase capability and to build relationships with our partners. Trust isn’t something you can surge, and it’s critical that we maintain and develop these key relationships for the times we really need to rely on one another,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Dave Welch, the commander of Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center and Commander, Task Force 177. “The training we will complete will increase capability, evaluate new and existing tactics, [and] foster interoperability”.

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 conducting advanced mine warfare operations to support RIMPAC.

“At each RIMPAC our Navy trains with friends, partners and colleagues to be capable, adaptive, innovative and ready,” said Rear Admiral Brian Fort, Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. “RIMPAC offers relevant and realistic training that fosters and sustains cooperative relationships. During RIMPAC in 2002 I learned quickly that when we understand each other we can prevent miscalculations. We can build trust. We can preserve peace and prevent conflict.”


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For the first time since RIMPAC 2002, U.S. 3rd Fleet's Command Center relocated from San Diego to Pearl Harbor to support command and control of all 3rd Fleet forces in their area of responsibility to include forces operating forward in the Western Pacific. The Fleet Command Center was established at a Deployable Joint Command and Control on Hospital Point for the first part of the exercise and then transitioned to USS Portland (LPD 27) for the remainder of the exercise.

Hosted by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, RIMPAC 2018 was led by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. John D. Alexander, who served as Combined Task Force (CTF) commander. Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Bob Auchterlonie served as CTF deputy commander, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Hideyuki Oban served as CTF vice commander. The Fleet Marine Force was led by U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Mark Hashimoto. Other key leaders of the multinational force included Commodore Pablo Niemann of Armada de Chile, the Combined Force Maritime Component Commander (the first time a non-founding RIMPAC nation held a component commander leadership position) and Air Commodore Craig Heap of the Royal Australian Air Force, who commanded the air component. This year's exercise included forces from Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.

This is the first time Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are participating in RIMPAC. Information for this article was compiled from U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs releases.Surface Warfare Magazine

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