PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines manned the rails of the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) as it pulled pierside in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in preparation for the Rim of the Pacific 2016 Exercise, June 30.
This is America's first time participating in the world's largest international maritime exercise, but according to Capt. Michael W. Baze, America's commanding officer, the ship's crew understands the importance of strengthening ties with our partners throughout the globe.
"America's maiden voyage around South America during the summer of 2014 was an incredible opportunity to reinforce relationships with our brothers and sisters throughout the continent," said Baze. "Now, during RIMPAC, we have the same opportunity, but with even more partner nations. I know the Sailors and Marines serving aboard America look forward to meeting new friends from foreign navies and military services."
During America's time in Hawaii, the ship will host distinguished visitors, participate in community relations projects, explore the Hawaiian culture, and make final preparations for the underway portion of the exercise.
"It's exciting to be a part of RIMPAC this year and to visit Hawaii," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Chelsea Milton, assigned to America. "I can't wait to see the island culture, the hiking trails, meet new people, and check out the Hawaiian food scene."
Throughout the exercise, America will host members of the Royal New Zealand Navy, Marines from Marine Expeditionary Battalion Hawaii (MEB-HI), and serve as the command and control platform for Amphibious Task Force CTF 176.
"America is a very capable and adaptable platform, and serves as the perfect amphibious task force flagship for this comprehensive exercise," said Baze. "As a Marine Corps aviation-centric platform, USS America provides unmatched versatility for our fellow Marines who will be aboard throughout the next month."
America's Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Kenneth W. Robertson sees RIMPAC as a once in a lifetime experience for all the Sailors and Marines involved.
"I lived in Hawaii for several years and I am happy to come back to the islands to experience RIMPAC on America," said Robertson. "The ship's crew and embarked staffs will learn and grow together. This is a pivotal moment in the ship's history and a memorable one for all participating."
Twenty-six nations, 49 ships, six submarines, about 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships between participants 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.
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For more news from USS America (LHA 6), visit www.navy.mil/local/lha6/.