Australia plays lead role in Pacific Rim Nation Exercise in Hawaii

The world’s largest Maritime exercise has officially begun with elements of the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force joining the military forces of 21 other nations in Hawaii.

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Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 has brought together 25 thousand sailors, soldiers and airmen who will spend the next five weeks participating in a series of complex and realistic warlike scenarios.

For the first time in the history of RIMPAC, Australia will lead the maritime component. The Commander of the 1100 strong Australian contingent, Commodore Stuart Mayer says it’s the first time the United States has provided another country with the opportunity to plan and execute the maritime aspect of this exercise.

“The opportunity to command the maritime force is a tribute to the trust in which the Australian Navy is held. It is also a great personal challenge,” Commodore Mayer said. “Australia is coordinating an extraordinary number of assets including seven Combined Task Forces consisting of 40 surface ships and six submarines.”

The RAN frigates HMAS Darwin and Perth will participate in the exercise, which will give each ship a real opportunity to test their skills. The submarine, HMAS Farncomb, will conduct a range of missions with allied forces. Australian Navy Clearance Divers will be in action in Hawaii conducting a wide range of underwater activities, including mine countermeasures. Australian Clearance Divers will also be commanding four other nations during aspects of the RIMPAC exercise to be conducted on the US mainland in San Diego.

Two Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft and a RAAF Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Wedgetail aircraft are also taking part in anti submarine warfare and surveillance evolutions.

On land, approximately 150 Townsville-based Army members from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR) will take part. A Special Purpose Marine Group Task Force from the ADF’s 3rd Brigade, will work with the US to further develop the ADFs amphibious capability.

Commodore Mayer says RIMPAC provides unique opportunities for all involved.

“The global maritime environment is too large and too complex for any one nation to safeguard,” Commodore Mayer said.

“RIMPAC helps all of us foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are so critical to safeguarding sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.”

RIMPAC 12’s primary mission is to enhance interoperability of the participating forces improving individual war fighting competencies, disaster relief and maritime security operations. This year’s theme is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners”.

The exercise will wind up on 3 August.

Press release
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, Australia