RIMPAC, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, is the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise. RIMPAC is held biennially during June and July of even-numbered years in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is hosted and administered by the United States Navy's Pacific Fleet, headquartered near Salt Lake, in conjunction with the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, and Hawaii National Guard forces under the leadership of the Governor of Hawaii. The U.S. invites allied military forces from the Pacific Rim nations to participate. With RIMPAC the United States Pacific Command seeks to enhance interoperability between Pacific Rim armed forces, as a means of promoting stability in the region to the benefit of all participating nations. The Pacific faces several potential conflicts which the United States Department of Defense believes may require naval force-on-force engagements. These include the possibility of China invading Taiwan in the event of its declaration of independence, and North Korean aggression towards South Korea, the United States, and Japan.
The first RIMPAC, held in 1971, involved forces from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US). Australia, Canada, and the US have participated in every RIMPAC. Other regular participants are Chile, Colombia, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Peru, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and the UK. The Royal New Zealand Navy was frequently involved until the 1985 ANZUS nuclear ships dispute.
Several observer nations are usually invited, including China, Ecuador, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and Russia, who became an active participant for the first time in 2012. While not contributing any ships, observer nations are involved in RIMPAC at the strategic level and use the opportunity to prepare for possible full participation in the future.
The United States contingent has included an aircraft carrier strike group, submarines, up to a hundred aircraft and 20,000 Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and their respective officers. The size of the exercises varies from year to year.
RIMPAC 2004 included 40 ships, seven submarines, 100 aircraft, and nearly 18,000 military personnel from seven navies, including Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Chile, and the United Kingdom. It focused on multinational training while building trust and cooperation among the participating naval partners. Rear Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, Commander Carrier Group Seven, served as Multinational Task Force Commander aboard the USS John C. Stennis.
On 23 June 2010, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Patrick M. Walsh and Combined Task Force commander Vice Admiral Richard W. Hunt announced the official start of the month-long 2010 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise during a press conference held in Lockwood Hall at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. RIMPAC 2010 was the 22nd exercise in the series that originated in 1971. The exercise was designed to increase the operational and tactical proficiency of participating units in a wide array of maritime operations by enhancing military-to-military relations and interoperability. Thirty-two ships, five submarines, over 170 aircraft, and 20,000 personnel participated in RIMPAC 2010, the world's largest multi-national maritime exercise.
RIMPAC 2010 brought together units and personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Peru, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States. During the exercise, participating countries conducted gunnery, missile, anti-submarine, and air defense exercises, as well as maritime interdiction and vessel boarding, explosive ordnance disposal, diving and salvage operations, mine clearance operations, and an amphibious landing. RIMPAC 2010 will also emphasize littoral operations with ships like the U.S. littoral combat ship Freedom, the French frigate Prairial, and the Singaporean Formidable class frigate RSS Supreme.
On 28 June 2010, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan arrived in Pearl Harbor to participate in RIMPAC 2010. Ronald Reagan was the only aircraft carrier to participate in this exercise. During the in-port phase of RIMPAC, officers and crew of the 14 participating navies interact in receptions, meetings, and athletic events. The Reagan completed its Tailored Ships Training Availability (TSTA) exercises prior to RIMPAC 2010.
During 6–7 July 2010, 32 naval vessels and five submarines from seven nations departed Pearl Harbor to participate in Phase II of RIMPAC 2010. This phase included live fire gunnery and missile exercises; maritime interdiction and vessel boardings; and anti-surface warfare, undersea warfare, naval maneuvers and air defense exercises. Participants also collaborated in explosive ordnance disposal; diving and salvage operations; mine clearance operations; and amphibious operations. Phase III involved scenario-driven exercises designed to further strengthen maritime skills and capabilities.
During RIMPAC 2010, over 40 naval personnel from Singapore, Japan, Australia, Chile, Peru, and Colombia managed combat exercises while serving aboard the Ronald Reagan (pictured). This involved managing anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare for Carrier Strike Group Seven and the entire RIMPAC force, including the use of radar, charts, and high-tech devices to monitor, chart, and communicate with other ships and submarines. Tactical action officers from the different countries coordinated the overall operational picture and provided direction and administration to the enlisted personnel involved in the Sea Combat Control (SCC) activities. Also, Reagan conducted a live Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launch, firing at a simulated target, the first since 2007.
On 30 July 2010, RIMPAC 2010 concluded with a press conference held at Merry Point Landing on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. A reception for over 1,500 participants, distinguished visitors and special guests was held in the hangar bays of the carrier Reagan.
During RIMPAC 2010, participating countries conducted three sinking exercises (SINKEX) involving 140 discrete live-fire events that included 30 surface-to-air engagements, 40 air-to-air missile engagements, 12 surface-to-surface engagements, 76 laser-guided bombs, and more than 1,000 rounds of naval gunfire from 20 surface combatant warships. Units flew more than 3100 air sorties, completed numerous maritime interdiction and vessel boardings, explosive ordnance disposal, diving and salvage operations and mine clearance operations and 10 major experiments, with the major one being the U.S. Marine Corps Enhanced Company Operations experiment. Ground forces from five countries completed five amphibious landings, including nine helicopter-borne amphibious landings and 560 troops from ship-to-shore mission. In all, 960 different training events were schedule and 96 percent were completed in all areas of the Hawaiian operations area, encompassing Kāneʻohe Bay, Bellows Air Force Station, the Pacific Missile Range Facility, and the Pohakuloa Training Area.
RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series and started on 29 June 2012. 42 ships, including the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and other elements of Carrier Strike Group 11, six submarines, 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel from 22 nations took part in Hawaii. The exercise involved surface combatants from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia, South Korea and Chile. The US Navy demonstrated its green fleet of biofuel-driven vessels for which it purchased 450,000 gallons of biofuel, the largest single purchase of biofuel in history at a cost of $12m. On July 17, USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO-187) delivered 900,000 gallons of biofuel and traditional petroleum-based fuel to the Nimitz's Carrier Strike Group 11.
The exercises included units or personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States. Russia participated actively for the first time, as did the Philippines, reportedly due to the escalating tensions with the People's Republic of China over ownership of Scarborough Shoal.
RIMPAC 2012 marked the debut of the U.S. Navy's new P-8A Poseidon land-based anti-submarine patrol aircraft, with two P-8As participating in 24 RIMPAC exercise scenarios as part of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron One (VX-1) based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay.
RIMPAC 2012 was the setting for the 2012 film Battleship.
RIMPAC experiments have included a range of sectors important to international militaries. In RIMPAC 2000, for example, the first of the Strong Angel international humanitarian response demonstrations was held on the Big Island of Hawai'i near Pu'u Pa'a. That series continued with events in the summer of 2004 and again in 2006. Participants have also conducted exercises in ship-sinking and torpedo usage. They also have tested new naval vessels and technology. For example in 2004, the United States Navy tested the Australian built HSV-2 Swift, a 321-foot experimental wave-piercing catamaran that draws only 11 feet of water, has a top speed of almost 50 knots, and can transport 605 tons of cargo.
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- Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stephen Votaw, USN (8 August 2008). "USS Ronald Reagan Returns from RIMPAC 2010". NNS100808-01. USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs. http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=55188. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
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- Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup, USN (9 July 2010). "Ships Depart Pearl Harbor for RIMPAC 2010 Exercises". NNS100708-18. Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs. http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=54554. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
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- http://www.msc.navy.mil/N00p/pressrel/press12/press19.htm USNS Henry J. Kaiser delivers biofuel for RIMPAC's Great Green Fleet demo
- "RIMPAC Units Continue To Arrive In Hawaii". US Navy. http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=68155. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
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