PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Almost 18,000 military personnel from seven nations are engaged in combined and joint operations in the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands in June. The purpose of exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2004 is to improve multinational cooperation and interoperability between allies.
Forty ships from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Chile are testing their capabilities in a show of international presence, spanning the spectrum from the might of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the specialized technology of minesweepers. Seven submarines and 100 aircraft will also be part of the month-long exercise, which will conclude July 27.
"We hold this exercise in very high regard, and it's a great opportunity for our forces," said Australian Commodore Davyd Thomas, commander, Float and Deployable Joint Task Force Headquarters and RIMPAC deputy commander, Combined Task Force.
The navies are teaming together to employ lessons learned in the global war on terrorism while honing warfighting skills to continue the fight, said high-level naval leaders at a June 29 press conference.
"That's a significant part of this exercise," said Vice Adm. Michael J. McCabe, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet and RIMPAC commander, Combined Task Force. "It always has been, and it's never been more important than now."
RIMPAC is testing Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Soldiers and Airmen with exercises on everything from executing an amphibious assault to sinking four decommissioned vessels, to supporting a humanitarian mission and evacuating non-combatants.
Participating ships will face undersea and mine warfare threats, among other scenarios.
"It's a very complex and multi-level training evolution," said McCabe.
Teamwork and improved communication was a recurring theme in each of the admirals' comments. They said their sailors look forward to the opportunity to train on the high seas and work side-by-side in littoral operations.
"We've come to prove our worth in what's going to be a very challenging scenario," said Commodore Roger Girouard, commander, Canadian Fleet Pacific and RIMPAC commander, Multinational Force Task Group.
"RIMPAC 2004 is a wonderful opportunity to develop intimate cooperation and imbue the solid allied military relationships with nations along the rim of the Pacific," said Capt. Gun-Doo Lee, commander of the South Korean RIMPAC Training Group.
"The international exercise deepens friendships with navies across the region," said Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Takanobu Sasaki, commander, Escort Flotilla Four and RIMPAC commander, Maritime Bilateral Force.
The high-ranking naval officers said more global cooperation among the world's navies will happen, which makes improved communications on the oceans even
"Coalitions are the way of the future," said Thomas.
"We may be larger than the other navies, but they're faced with similar challenges," McCabe added.
Ninety-five percent of the world's trade is transported over the seas and delivered to more than 4,000 ports, said McCabe. Therefore, the exercise takes on an added measure of importance in an era of global terrorism.
RIMPAC 2004, the 19th since 1971, ties in with Summer Pulse 04 -- a demonstration of the U.S. Navy's ability to surge seven carriers in five theaters to give national leadership the ability to project naval power across the globe. It's part of the Chief of Naval Operations' Fleet Response Plan that deploys vessels quickly when needed rather than strictly on a routine deployment schedule.
"We truly have embraced the need for our Navy to be more responsive," McCabe said. "Our Navy must flow seamlessly around the globe."
For more information about Summer Pulse '04, visit the CFFC Web site at www.cffc.navy.mil/summerpulse04.htm.
For related news, visit the Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/c3f.