Five surface ships and a submarine assemble off Hawaii during RIMPAC 2018. Navy photo

The world’s largest international maritime exercise concluded this week after more than a month of training events conducted in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

Highlights of the five weeks of exercises that ended Thursday included the sinking of two decommissioned ships via live fire, missile firings, amphibious assaults, mine warfare exercises and disaster relief training.

Twenty-five nations, 46 surface ships (including the Coronado-based carrier Carl Vinson), five submarines, 17 land forces and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel took part in Rim of the Pacific exercise 2018.

This year’s RIMPAC  marked the 26th in the series that began in 1971 and is now held every two years.

Hosted by UNavy’s Pacific Fleet, RIMPAC 2018 was led by U.S. Vice Adm. John D. Alexander, commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet. Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Bob Auchterlonie served as deputy commander, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Hideyuki Oban was the vice commander. The 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, who commanded the maritime component, and Air Commodore Craig Heap of the Royal Australian Air Force, who commanded the air component.

The decommissioned frigate USS McClusky sinks 55 nautical miles north of Kaua after being struck with live fire from a ship and an aircraft during RIMPAC. Navy photo

“I couldn’t be more proud of our international team’s ability to successfully complete an exercise of this nature,” said Alexander. “Most importantly, we completed the exercise safely while still achieving national training objectives. This is a true testament to the talent and lasting partnerships we built through RIMPACs past and present, and will continue to build for the foreseeable future.”

Alexander said the involvement of so many different countries working together to successfully accomplish RIMPAC was a strong reminder of the unity coalition forces can exhibit in a real-world situation.

“Multinational operations are complicated,” he said. “It takes skill to assemble an international team and have it be successful. Throughout the duration of the exercise, from the planning conferences to the ships returning to port, this team proved they work great together and can adapt quickly to a dynamic environment.”

This year’s exercise included forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Republic of Korea, Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.

Additionally, for the first time since RIMPAC 2002, the 3rd Fleet’s command center temporarily relocated from San Diego to Pearl Harbor to support command and control of all 3rd Fleet forces, including those operating forward in the Western Pacific. The command center was established on Hospital Point, Pearl Harbor, for the first part of the exercise, and then transitioned to the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland for the remainder of the exercise.

The guided-missile destroyer USS O’Kane launches a Standard Missile-2 during RIMPAC. Navy photo
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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.