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RIMPAC 2016 Updates

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Welcome! This is the RIMPAC 2016 page for news and information.

RIMPAC 2016 Homepage

News and Information Timeline (all timings local, Hawaii -22hrs)

Tue 31 May: RIMPAC (US) press release

Thu 02 June: RIMPAC (NZDF) press release (NZDF participation)

Thu 16 June: CTF 176 Command Team depart RNZAF Base Auckland for San Diego and USS AMERICA

Tue 25 June: CDRE Jim Gilmour, Commander CTF 176 (Amphibious Forces) arrives abroad USS AMERICA

Tue 28 June: HMNZS TE KAHA berths Pearl Harbor

Wed 29 June: CO TEK interviewed by Kate Pereyra, Radio New Zealand

Thu 30 June: USS AMERICA berths Pearl Harbor

RIMPAC (NZDF) press release (Te Kaha arrives)

Mon 04 July: Independence Day -

Tue 05 July: RIMPAC 2016 Opening Press Conference. Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) Adm. Scott Swift delivers the opening remarks to announce the beginning of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016 during a press conference July 5 at 10 a.m. on pier S-1A, located on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Wed 06 July: HMNZS TE KAHA reception - NZ Consulate-General Hon Jim McLay, Maritime Component Commander Commodore Jim Gilmour and Commanding Officer Commander Steve Lenik hosts RIMPAC participants from 26 nations on board Te Kaha as part of exercise RIMPAC 2016.

Thu 07 July: RNZAF P-3K2 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft from 5 Squadron (RNZAF Base Auckland) arrives at Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MBCH), Kaneohe Bay, Oahu.  The P-3K2 provides airborne surveillance of New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone, Pacific region and the Southern Ocean including Antarctica. RIMPAC will see two P-3K2's operating from MCBH throughout the exercise enhancing its capabilities alongside the other participating nations.

Fri 08 July: Osprey familiarisation flights. Troops from the 'Anzac Landing Force' conducted flight familiarisation with US Marine Corps on Osprey aircraft.

Sat 09 July: Samichon Memorial Service at Kaneohe Bay. On parade were 2 Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR), Victor Company NZ 1st Battalion, US Marine Corps and His Majestry's Armed Forces Tonga. Service remembered the sacrifices made in the 'Battle of Samichon', Korea July 1953.

Ship open day. RIMPAC held a ship open day for US military personnel and families. Ships from all nations entertained military families and contractors and it was also an opportunity for media to get up close with the many different ships at RIMPAC.

Mon 11 July: Commander US Third Fleet Vice Admiral Nora Tyson accompanied with Rear Admiral Koji Manabe from Japan and Rear Admiral Scott Bishop from Canada visited the NZ Littoral Warfare Unit (LWU). The detachment showcased the deployability of their clearance dive team and equipment.

Tue 12 July: The Littoral Warfare Unit (LWU) hydrography survey team worked with their US counterparts to conduct beach survey work at Bellows Beach.

Wed 13 July: HMNZS Te Kaha. Te Kaha sailed Pearl Harbor for the Sea Phase of exercise RIMPAC - she commences live firing at the weekend in a joint exercise with 5 Squadron.

5 Squadron. RNZAF P-3K2 Orion crew took part in a anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise

Thu 14 July: Amphibious beach landings. As the combat phase of the Exercise begins, it is essential that everyone gets a sense of the readiness state of the embarked Landing Force. Onboard USS America, Commodore Gilmour accompanied by his Commander Land Forces Colonel Ward Cooper US Marine Corps, took the opportunity to observe an amphibious raid rehearsal using the USMC Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) at Kaneohe Bay near Honolulu. The raid rehearsal was very successful and the amphibious force is set to ramp up to live firing Force Integration Training on the Big Island next week.

Fri 15 July: RNZAF P-3K2 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft from 5 Squadron was involved in a US Coast Guard (USCG) led search and rescue (SAR) for a downed aircraft off the coast of Kona, Big Island. The P-3K2 Orion was retasked to be part of a joint search which included a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, a Navy MH-60R helicopter crew off the USS Chung Hoon (DDG-93) and USCG Cutter Galveston Island (WPB-1349). At 0819 debris consistent with an airplane was sighted by the P-3K2 crew about 52 miles northwest of Kona. At 1135 the pilot and passenger of the downed aircraft were found alive with minor injuries in the water and rescued by USCG helicopter.  A great outcome by all involved. 

Visit to view video story.

Sun 17 July: Live Firing Rodeo Gunnery Competition. HMNZS TE Kaha naval gun fire support - a gunnery competition amongst ships, 15 rounds from the 5" Gun.

Live Firing MK46 torpedos. Both Te Kaha and her Seasprite helicopter fired a torpedo each at a simulated submarine, this was followed up by two more MK46 torpedoes launched from RNZAF P-3K2. These are practice torpedoes designed to be reused. Once fired, sensors on the sea floor track the torpedo's progress and accuracy. When the fuel runs out the torpedo surfaces and is recovered to be used again.

YouTube Video Live firings
YouTube Video Torpedo Drop

Mon 18 July: Living Firing NATO sea sparrow missile. HMNZS Te Kaha fired one missile at a simulated aircraft. The missile system is designed to shoot down incoming aircraft and missiles that pose a threat to the ship or task force.

Tue 19 July: Live Firing exercise SINKEX. HMNZS Te Kaha fired three missiles in surface mode at a decommissioned US frigate. Te Kaha was one of a number of ships, aircraft and submarines to sink the frigate.

Fairfax NZ journalist Elton Rikihana Smallman and visual journalist Jason Dorday joined RIMPAC 2016 at the invitation of the US Embassy in Wellington. Hosted by the NZDF at Honolulu on the island of Oahu, reporting on NZ's participation at RIMPAC.

Wed 20 July: Victor Company - Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA), Kona on the Big Island. The  'Anzac Landing Force' rehearsed a series of day-time attacks. Anywhere from 35 to 40 personnel going forward, securing fire support objectives and clearing enemy position.

For nearly two weeks, Victor Company have been put to the test both mentally and physically. Stationed on a plateau more than 2000 metres above sea-level between volcanoes Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

Victor Company have been at PTA for almost two weeks as part of their training for RIMPAC and the amphibious assault later in the month. RIMPAC allows the forces from various nations to work together across different languages, equipment and systems.

Under New Zealand's Victor Company are troops from the US Marine Corps, Australian Defence Force, and His Majesty's Armed Forces (Tonga). During training scenarios, it will take about an hour to run through a battle course. Soldiers move quickly in short bursts across the ground, bounding anywhere between two to five metres, taking different fire positions from standing, down to stomach or knees and co-operating left to right.

Pohakuloa is reminiscent of the landscape around Waiouru and the Desert Road in Central North Island . . . with rocks. It's rugged, austere and big.
It's demanding work. Soldiers are expected to carry between 15kg and 20kg each, including guns, ammunition, rockets, body armour and helmets during the battle exercise.

Thu 21 July: Victor Company relocates to Kawaihae in preparation for HMAS Canberra loading.

Fri 22 July: Amphibious Beach Landing Site, Kawaihae. HMAS Canberra sits a kilometre off the Kawaihae coast at Hawaii's Big Island. Four landing craft ferry armoured vehicles, troops and munitions into the well deck of one of Australia's latest additions to its navy fleet, the HMAS Canberra. Among those boarding the landing craft is an international coalition of soldiers: United States Marines, Australian Defence Force (ADF), His Majesty's Armed Forces from Tonga and the New Zealand Defence Force. The soldiers make up Victor Company at RIMPAC 2016. 

Tropical Cyclone Darby inches closer to the Big Island and expected to make landfall on Saturday afternoon.

Sat 23 July: Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee visits RIMPAC.

Fairfax Media (Elton and Jason) visit 5 Squadron and receive a guided tour of the inside of a P-3K2.

Sun 24 July: Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee visits was restricted due to aircraft cancellation caused by Tropical Cyclone Darby.

Mon 25 July: Littoral Warfare Unit dive exercise. Divers from the LWU conducted a search and recovery exercise involving a notional body and cabinet. The scenario was based around a sailor falling overboard.

Tue 26 July: Littoral Warfare Unit dive exercise. Divers from the LWU conducted a salvage exercise.

Throughout the week, 5 Squadron have been participating in anti-submarine exercises.

Wed 27 July. Exercise Rest Day.

Thu 28 July: PHOTEX. A display of all ships and submarines participating in RIMPAC 2016.

Littoral Warfare Unit DIVEX. A dive exercise with divers from the LWU involved in searching for a shipping container.

Fri 29 July. The stage is set for the coming days’ "free play" events, including the insertion of roughly two hundred U.S. Marines ashore via a CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopter and a MV-22B Osprey from amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6).

Sat 30 July. Exercise "free play" Amphibious Landings. Rim of the Pacific 2016 participants from eight nations showcased their amphibious landing and beach assault capabilities at Pyramid Rock Beach, Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Bellows Beach, Marine Corps Training Area Bellows over two days July 30 and 31.

Part of the “free play” phase of RIMPAC 2016, the amphibious assaults and air assaults are a culmination of a month’s worth of interoperability training involving several partner nation land, sea and air assets. During the invasion scenarios, the land, sea and air forces, consisting of more than two thousand U.S. Marines and Sailors, and soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, loaded into landing craft air cushion (LCACs), assault amphibious vehicles (AAVs), and Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC) and headed ashore; their mission, to secure the area and stop opposing forces.

NZ Army (Victor Company) alongside soldiers from U.S. Marines, 2RAR (Australia) and His Majesty's Armed Forces Tonga landed at Bellows Beach off the Royal Australian Navy Canberra class amphibious ship HMAS Canberra (L02).  The amphibious activity marks the end of a training program where 2RAR personnel have been working with NZ, Tonga and the US soldiers as an integrated unit at both Islands of Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii training ranges. HMAS Canberra has also refined and tested its ability to deploy these Army personnel to shore including demonstrating the ability to launch and recover different aircraft types and landing craft.

Sun 31 July. Exercise "free play" continues.

Mon 01 August. The world’s largest international maritime exercise draws to and end. On Aug. 4, RIMPAC 2016 will end after more than a month of training events conducted in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in Rim of the Pacific 2016, more countries and personnel than in any previous years. This year’s RIMPAC marked the 25th in the series that began in 1971 and is now held every two years.

Hosted by U.S. Pacific Fleet, RIMPAC 2016 was led by U.S. Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet, who served as the combined task force commander. Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Scott Bishop served as deputy commander of the CTF, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Koji Manabe was the vice commander. Other key leaders of the multinational force included Commodore Malcolm Wise of the Royal Australian Navy, who commanded the maritime component; Brig. Gen. Blaise Frawley of the Royal Canadian Air Force, who commanded the air component; and Royal New Zealand Navy Commodore James Gilmour, who led the amphibious task force.

Thu 04 August. "RIMPAC 2016 has been unqualified success. The collaboration and cohesiveness between participants proved that we can operate effectively with our partner nations and that we will be ready in the Pacific if or when we're called upon,” said Vice Admiral Nora Tyson. “We have operated as an effective team while simultaneously strengthening the skills of each and every participant. To safely and effectively execute an exercise of this scale and scope is a tribute to the leadership and skill of every participating unit."

“From the beginning harbor phase to the closing ceremony reception, the different nations have demonstrated their capability and proven themselves to be very adaptive during the entire exercise,” said Tyson. “It’s all about our working together and becoming better partners and understanding how we work together in different scenarios. We’ve certainly accomplished what we set out to with RIMPAC and proven that we’re stronger as allies because of it.”

This year’s exercise participants were Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, People’s Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, United Kingdom, in addition to the United States.

RIMPAC 2016’s theme of “capable, adaptive partners” highlights participating nations demonstrating the flexibility of maritime forces to meet regional and global challenges for mutual benefit. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971.


RIMPAC behind the scenes

As the eyes of the world focus on Rim of the Pacific 2016, observers see the impressive images and videos coming out of the multinational exercise that brings together ships, submarines, aircraft and personnel from the 26 participating nations in a collaborative effort to strengthen relationships and improve interoperability in the maritime environment. What the world doesn’t see, however, is the planning and behind-the-scenes efforts that drive this highly-complex exercise.

Over 400 personnel from seven nations work mostly behind the scenes in a very complex environment. Planning began shortly after RIMPAC 2014 ended. Over two years, representatives from each nation developed the scenario and created the schedule of events to provide a realistic, impactful training experience for all of our multinational participants at RIMPAC 2016.

The complexity of RIMPAC is astounding. There are 45 ships, five submarines, 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel from 26 nations. Each country has its own training objectives. RIMPAC offers a venue to achieve those goals as well as the unique opportunity to work in a huge, multinational maritime force. Approximately 4,300 events have been meticulously planned to provide specific training scenarios for each participants.

In order to provide realistic, real-world training for participants, the infrastructure is complex and the scheduling and placement of assets is absolutely critical. For example, in a combined anti-submarine warfare exercise (a very popular event), the participating ships, aircraft and submarines must be at a specific location at a specific time so they can detect each other and engage accordingly.

RIMPAC could be described as a collection of unconnected exercises, a schedule of events managed by the Combined Exercise Control Group - Not too dissimilar to rugby practice before the weekend game. But at some point, you want to "kick off!” The scenario is a crisis in an imaginary group of islands based roughly on the Hawaiian Islands. This year, our imaginary islands are called the Coaster Islands and they are rife with political, economic and ultimately military conflict. The RIMPAC schedule of events phase occurs inside that scenario, which culminates with a massive show of force – amphibious landings.

Then, everything gets more exciting when the opposing forces enter the exercise. Opposing forces’ ships, submarines and air assets attempt to prevent RIMPAC forces from achieving their goals. While the schedule of events phase is highly-scripted, the “free play” phase at the end of RIMPAC creates a more reactionary environment and drives a more real-world response to real-time exercise events.


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