RIMPAC: RCN gears up for large-scale maritime exercise in Hawaii

Navy News / June 15, 2016

By Rachel Lallouz

The Canadian Armed Forces will cooperate with 27 other nations this year for Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016, the largest maritime exercise in the world.

Taking place in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California from June 30 to August 4, this year’s exercise will mark Canada’s 25th time participating in the biannual exercise.

Canada’s maritime component will include Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Calgary, Vancouver, Saskatoon, and Yellowknife, along with a Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) dive team and forward logistics team.

“Having our ships and divers train with other countries fosters multinational cooperation and trust, enhances operability and naval professional engagement, and achieves our national objectives while building capable coalition partners in the Pacific Rim and beyond,” says Lieutenant-Commander Matthew Arthur, RCN Deputy Lead Planner for RIMPAC.

The 1,500 Canadian sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen participating will work alongside multiple allies during the exercise, such as Australia, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore.

“Our ability to be leaders in this exercise is deeply important for Canada,” says LCdr Arthur. “Fundamentally, we play a role organizing an exercise that is vast in scope of training, with 45 ships participating, five submarines, 17 different land force groups, over 200 aircraft, and over 25,000 people.”

Participants will be challenged to complete training across a wide range of military capabilities, including humanitarian assistance, disaster response, dynamic maritime security, and complex warfighting operations.

In Hawaii, RIMPAC will begin with a harbour phase of briefings with all docked ships to ensure participating navies have the same level of knowledge. Training will then focus on practising joint live-fire exercises, carrying out a simulated maritime theatre missile defence, amphibious operations, counter piracy, anti-submarine warfare, and an assessment of satellite networking in degraded environments.

Hawaii will also be the backdrop in which the RCN tests their electronic warfare, says LCdr Arthur.

“We will be undergoing trials to complete advanced mine counter-measures systems with the use of an autonomous underwater vehicle known as Hugin,” he says.

Off Southern California, training will concentrate on mine hunting, mine warfare and amphibious operations.

“I know we will have carried out the exercise successfully when we meet our training objectives, which will enhance the overall interoperability of RIMPAC forces across a full spectrum of military operations,” says LCdr Arthur.

Canadians will also hold key leadership positions: Rear-Admiral Scott Bishop will serve as Deputy Commander of the Combined Task Force and Brigadier-General Blaise Frawley will serve as the Air Component Commander.