Friday, September 4, 2020


4 September 2020: With the long holiday weekend looming, I thought I would get this week's post out a bit early since who knows what the weekend will bring! And further, it's an exciting topic with a really neat video of something few of us ever would see. 
Rim of the Pacific Naval exercises, "RIMPAC" in keeping with the military's need to shorten everything to a single word or anagram, occurs every two years and involves multiple countries around the Pacific Ocean (Rim of the Pacific - get it?)
This year there were no land troops involved due to the pandemic and it was postponed from its usual start date in July to late August. The exercises involve a variety of naval drills with ships of different nationalities so that should it come to pass that we have to perform these tasks in a possibly hostile environment, it can be accomplished with a minimum of problem.  The following comes from several sources including the United States Naval Institute and Stars And Stripes newspaper.

"Ten nations, 22 surface ships, one submarine, and approximately 5,300 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from Aug. 17 to 31 in the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. The at-sea-only construct for RIMPAC 2020 was developed to ensure the safety of all military forces participating, and Hawaii’s population, by minimizing shore-based contingents, while striking a balance between combating future adversaries and the COVID-19 threat.

RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s interconnected oceans. RIMPAC 2020 is the 27th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

The two-week exercise, joined by navies from 10 nations, concluded Monday.

Participating countries included Australia, Brunei, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore and the United States.

“Our formidable team of capable, adaptive partners has spent the last two weeks demonstrating that we have the resolve and ability to operate together in these challenging times,” Vice Adm. Scott Conn, commander of U.S. 3rd Fleet, said in the statement."
So, the exercise always (or generally) ends with the opportunity for the participants to have a "live" target for missile and gunfire which is something the weapons department in a combatant ship goes crazy for. As a former Gun Boss (Weapons Officer) on U.S. Navy destroyers, I can speak to this need shared by all who sail on fighting ships the world over. It is one thing to shoot at targets - whether aerial pulled by a plane, or surface, pulled by a tug or other ship at sea - and an entirely different experience to shoot at a "real" ship or even an aerial drone with the intent of the destruction of the target. So RIMPAC fulfills that need in a frequently spectacular manner. The final day is called "SINKEX" for obvious reasons.

"Live fire from ships and aircraft participating in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise sank the decommissioned amphibious cargo ship ex-USS Durham (LKA 114), Aug. 30.
Harpoon missile fired by an Australian ship

The sinking exercise (SINKEX) provided participating units the opportunity to gain proficiency and confidence in their weapons and systems through realistic training that could not be duplicated in simulators.
“Simulation is a critical part of our training but there is nothing better than to conduct live fire training,” said Royal Australian Navy Capt. Phillipa Hay, commander, RIMPAC 2020 Task Force One. “Sinking exercises are an important way to test our weapons and weapons systems in the most realistic way possible."  
click here for live action video
"It demonstrates as a joint force we are capable of high-end warfare.”
Former Navy vessels used in SINKEXs, referred to as hulks, are prepared in strict compliance with regulations prescribed and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency under a general permit the Navy holds pursuant to the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act.

Each SINKEX is required to sink the hulk in at least 1,000 fathoms (6,000 feet) of water and at least 50 nautical miles from land. Surveys are conducted to ensure people and marine mammals are not in an area where they could be harmed during the event.

The 2nd missile visible in the red circle

Prior to being transported for participation in a SINKEX, each vessel is put through a rigorous cleaning process, including the removal of all liquid polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from transformers and large capacitors, small capacitors to the greatest extent practical, and all trash, floatable materials, mercury or fluorocarbon-containing materials, and readily detachable solid PCB items. Petroleum is also cleaned from tanks, piping, and reservoirs.
A Navy environmental, safety and health manager and a quality assurance supervisor inspect the environmental remediation conducted in preparation of a vessel’s use in a SINKEX. Upon completion of the environmental remediation, the manager and supervisor provide signed certification of the work in accordance with EPA requirements.

Ex-Durham was a Charleston-class amphibious cargo ship commissioned on May 24, 1969, and was decommissioned on February 25, 1994. The ship was named for Durham, North Carolina, and served during the Gulf War."

So, there you have it folks! A pretty dramatic demonstration of the power of naval weaponry. And to those readers in the United States, happy Labor Day weekend!

Until next time, 
                                      Fair Winds, 
                                             Old Salt

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