Live fire from ships and aircraft participating in the multinational Rim of the Pacific exercise sank a decommissioned cargo ship near Hawaii on Sunday.
The Navy said the sinking exercise helped participating RIMPAC units gain proficiency and confidence in their weapons 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. “Sinking exercises are an important way to test our weapons and weapons systems in the most realistic way possible. It demonstrates as a joint force we are capable of high-end warfare.”
The sunken ship was the former USS Durham, a Charleston-class amphibious cargo ship commissioned in 1969 and decommissioned in 1994. The ship was named for the city in North Carolina and served during the Gulf War.
Former Navy vessels — referred to as “hulks” — that are used in live-fire exercises are extensively cleaned before being sunk in at least 6,000 feet of water and 50 nautical miles from land to protect people and marine life.
Ten nations, 22 surface ships, one submarine, and approximately 5,300 personnel particpated in RIMPAC from Aug. 17 to 31 in the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands.
The Navy said that during the exercise 16,000 rounds of small arms munitions were shot, over 1,000 large caliber weapons fired and 13 missiles launched.
“I would like to extend my sincere appreciation and thanks to all participating nations in RIMPAC 2020. Our mutual commitment toward a free and open Indo-Pacific will ensure unfettered open access to the seas and airways upon which our people and economies depend, now and into the future,” said Adm. John C. Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
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