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4 September 2012

Postcard from Hawaii

by Lt Cdr Maurice “Muzz” Kennett

I last attended exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime exercise, in 1978 as an 18-year-old radio mechanic posted to the Leander batch frigate HMNZS WAIKATO. 

At that time, I was the sea cat maintainer and spent most of my defence watch cooped up in the Seacat transmitter space, locking on to aircraft and simulating Seacat missile firings. I remember conducting a light jackstay with USS ENTERPRISE, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, to receive fresh bread from its bakery and was left awed by its size and power.  At 1,123 feet, the “Big E” is the longest naval vessel in the world.

 

Lt Cdr Maurice "Muzz" Kennett (second from the right) with three crewmembers from HMNZS ENDEAVOUR - (from left to right) Acting Lt Samantha Palmer, Chief Petty Officer Mark Asquith and Lt Radoslaw Wasak - on the flight deck of the USS Nimitz 

To return to Pearl Harbour last June and see the might of the United States Navy and attend the closing function in early August on board the aircraft carrier USS NIMITZ was just as exhilarating as it was 34 years ago. 

RIMPAC 2012, the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971, provided many new experiences for me and the crew of HMNZS ENDEAVOUR. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel took part in the biennial exercise from 29 June to 3 August 2012.

We replenished 16 ships throughout the exercise. This included three Aegis-guided missile “Ticonderoga class” cruisers – USS LAKE ERIE, PORT ROYAL and PRINCETON – and several Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers. It was the first time ENDEAVOUR replenished this class of ships. We also replenished ANZAC-class and Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates. There were also a number of memorable moments such as when members of the Spetsnaz, the Russian special forces, rappelled on board from a helicopter.

It was interesting to work with the US Navy because they do things in a slightly different way, requiring the Chief Bosun’s Mate to spend time explaining how ENDEAVOUR replenishes ships.  This was achieved by sending over a portable radio which the Chief Bosun’s Mate used to discuss the procedures with the deck party. Explaining what a “dingo clip” is was the usual sticky point.  Whilst at times slow and frustrating, all replenishments were completed and new friends were made. 

Another highlight was taking part in the RIMPAC photo opportunity, which saw the more than 40 ships and submarines participating in the exercise sailing in formation in waters around the Hawaiian islands. That impressive fleet photo, with USS NIMITZ in the lead, required complex maneuvers, the assistance of staff from 11 countries and translations of instructions into five languages. ENDEAVOUR was the last ship in the centre column while the frigate HMNZS TE KAHA was the last in the right-hand column.  With smart planning from Commanding Officer Cdr Keith Robb and Navigational Officer Lt Radoslaw Wasak of the Royal Canadian Navy, ENDEAVOUR was in a perfect position when the cameras clicked.

The RIMPAC fleet

 

 

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