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Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC)

Rim of the Pacific is a biennial large-scale multinational power projection/sea control exercise. Conducted biennially (every even year) under the leadership of the US Third Fleet, RIMPAC is a multinational, combined sea mobility exercise in which the ROK, the US, Australia, Canada, Chile, England, and Japan have participated since 1971. RIMPAC is designed to enhance the tactical capabilities and cooperation of participating nations in various aspects of maritime operations at sea

The exercise is held with the objective to increase mutual cooperation and enhance the combined operations capabilities among the countries around the rim of the Pacific Ocean so that they can ensure the safety of major sea lines of communication (SLOCs) and improve their combined response capabilities in the event of conflict on the sea.


Six Pacific nations participated in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 1998, a major maritime exercise in the Pacific Ocean in the vicinity of Hawaii. The exercise brought together maritime forces of Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States for training operations from July 6 through Aug. 6, 1998. More than 50 ships, 200 aircraft and 25,000 U.S. Navy, Air Force, Marine, Army and Coast Guard men and women were involved in this regularly scheduled exercise.

RIMPAC is designed to enhance the tactical capabilities of participating units in major aspects of maritime operations at sea. RIMPAC 98 was the sixteenth in a series of Pacific naval exercises, which began in 1971 as an annual exercise and became a biannual exercise in 1974. This year's exercise involved a wide variety of naval combatants: an aircraft carrier, submarines, amphibious forces, and tactical aircraft. Following the tactical phase of the exercise off Hawaii, units will transit to Pearl Harbor for port visits and exercise debriefs.

RIMPAC 98 was under the coordination of the U.S. Third Fleet, which is commanded by Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN. Operational command of individual units during the exercise will be the responsibility of respective national commanders. Other principal commanders include: Rear Adm. Ron Buck, commander, Canadian Fleet Pacific, Canadian Navy; Commodore Russ Sholders, commmander flotilla, Royal Australian Navy; Rear Adm. Yoshihiro Sakaue, commander, Escort Flotilla One, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force; Capt. Kim Young-Ok, Republic Of Korea Navy; Cmdr. Jorge Chubretovich Soffia, Chilean Navy; Rear Adm. Daniel Bowler, USN, commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group Five; Rear Adm. Alfred G. Harms Jr., USN, commander Carrier Group Three; and Rear Adm. Tim Lafleur, USN, commander Cruiser Destroyer Group One.

Under the scenario, the Hawaiian Islands have been split into two separate countries. "Blueland" is composed of the islands of Oahu, Kauai, Niihau and Kaula Rock, and "Orangeland" is made up of Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe.

A small, relatively wealthy nation, Blueland is a democracy, with an economy based primarily on tourism and international trade. It is a key Pacific Rim air-and-sea transport point. With only a National Guard and Coast Guard for protection, Blueland relies on its western allies, leaving it vulnerable to an insurgency force or civil disaster. Most of its wealth is concentrated in or near Honolulu. In the exercise it will have use of RIMPAC's one aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson.

In contrast, Orangeland is a larger, agrarian country with a weak economy heavily subsidized by its dictatorship-style of government. Its massive military force is comprised of Russian, Chinese and Western equipment and includes a large air force with strike and air-defense aircraft. Plus it boasts a medium-sized surface ship force, a large submarine force and a highly mobile medium-size army. But Orangeland's military forces suffer from a static, centralized command structure.

Also, Orangeland has purchased 10 to 15 Scud missiles from a rogue Third World nation that trains and supports Orange IRG (Island Revolutionary Guard), the primary special operations unit of the Orange military. During the exercise, Orange's greatest strength will be its five submarines -- two American, one Australian, one Japanese and one South Korean.

Historically, the area has been politically unstable because of competing desires to grab land and other economic benefits. Because the two countries share a common religion, language and heritage, Orangeland has pushed for unification. Yet Blueland citizens vehemently rejected the notion during recent elections, while Orangeland citizens overwhelmingly approved the idea. Meanwhile, a guerrilla group called the FROG (Front for Revolution Orange Guerrillas), with ties to the Orange IRG, emerged to help orchestrate an armed insurgency.

Angered by the Blue government's rejection, Orange claimed the elections were rigged, and attacked the Blue islands of Oahu and Kauai. The United Nations immediately voted for limited sanctions against Orangeland.

Unlike its predecessors, the 16th Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC 98) naval exercise at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii involved more than just testing the coordination and teamwork of participating naval forces. With two historic battleships, USS Missouri and USS Arizona, in the background as silent sentinels, this biennial exercise was an opportunity for allied and friendly navies to practice their craft and continue the cooperation that has been played out every other year since 1971. Vice Adm. Herb Browne, Commander, U.S. Third Fleet and overall commander of the Combined Coalition Task Force, said, "Pacific Rim nations are linked by a global economy. It is important for our naval forces to exercise and train together as a coalition. By developing a common understanding, we improve our ability to work together as a combined military force. Working with other Pacific nations is important to the future of not only our navies, but our nations."

From 6 July through 6 August, 1998, naval forces from five nations conducted RIMPAC 98 exercises designed to enhance the abilities of the participating nations to operate effectively as a team when conducting operations at sea. A sixth country, Japan, exercised bilaterally with the U.S. Navy. Over 50 ships, 250 aircraft and 27,000 military personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the U.S. participated in this sixteenth biennial exercise, which began in l971 as an annual exercise. Besides these nations which directly participated in the training, observers from other nations of the Pacific Rim, including China, Thailand, Singapore, Mexico and Peru watched RIMPAC 98. Chile, the lone participating South American nation, was back for a second time as a key player in naval activities throughout the exercise. In addition, scores of media and dozens of military, diplomatic leaders and distinguished visitors attended RIMPAC 98.

The Australian Navy has participated in every RIMPAC exercise. The biggest benefit Australia receives is interoperability with the other nations participating in RIMPAC 98. Of equal importance are the training benefits which sailors and airmen receive from working RIMPAC's complex scenarios.

Starting as an original RIMPAC participant in the early 1970s, Canada's contribution to the exercise has resulted in a quantum leap in military capability and operational effectiveness. RIMPAC 98 included 1,200 Canadian participants. Ten dolphins worked alongside eight Canadian clearance divers based at Esquimalt for about three weeks.

Chile's participation in RIMPAC began in 1996 with the submarine Simpson and the frigate Lynch. During RIMPAC 98, the frigate Condell was chosen because it was considered to be one of the main combat units of the Chilean Combat Fleet.

For the tenth time, Japan operated with the U.S. Navy in bilateral events conducted during RIMPAC. Operating with the U.S. Navy frigate, the USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships practiced their capabilities for actual situations, firing real SM-2, Sea Sparrow and Harpoon missiles hitting their targets, plus P-3 torpedo launches. The JMSDF ships included the JDS Kirishama, Harusame, Murasame, Towada, and the Hayashio. By conducting cooperative operations with the U.S. Navy, JMSDF promotes closer communication and keeps harmonious relations between the two military forces. JMSDF also makes every effort to cultivate the partnership on a daily basis through a variety of friendship events.

The Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy was back in Pearl Harbor for a fifth consecutive RIMPAC as part of the Multinational Force. For its sailors, it was the first time they participated in the exercise with a solid battle force of two frigates, ROKS Chon Nam (FF 957) and ROKS Chung Nam (FF 953), the submarine ROKS Lee Jong Moo (SS 066) and two P-3C aircraft. This force successfully fired a Harpoon missile from a P-3 and its submarine "sunk" a target vessel.

Interoperability of the combined forces was tested in such areas as tactics, command and control, logistics and communications. Non-participating nations sending observers to the RIMPAC exercise had the opportunity to see U.S. Navy men and women at work. They also saw how the six nations cooperated in RIMPAC 98, contributing to a spirit of security and stability in the Pacific.

RIMPAC 98 tested the coalition of the Pacific Rim's navies and also included continued joint operations with the U.S. Air Force/Hawaii Air National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Marine Corps. Throughout this complex, multi-faceted exercise, evolutions took place to emphasize interoperability at a hectic pace on shore, in the air and at sea. An amphibious landing by the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the USS Boxer (LHD 4) Amphibious Ready Group was launched off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

A U.S. Naval Reserve unit, Patrol Squadron 65, worked from Naval Air Station Barbers Point to perform anti-submarine warfare operations. Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Regina vertically launched two Sea Sparrow missiles tracked by the impressive capabilities of the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. The missile shots were intended to validate Canadian missile-firing doctrine and tactics. Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One at Hickam Air Force Base located, surveyed and removed grounded vessels, performed underwater welding and made repairs on sunken vessels in order to retrieve them.

Ships from Australia, Canada, Chile, the Republic of Korea and the United States simulated missile scenarios off Kauai that involved the Hawaiian Islands being split into two separate countries. In a first time activity coordinated with RIMPAC participants, Naval Base Pearl Harbor tested its ability to effectively respond to an oil spill in an evolution revolving around a simulated Navy pipeline rupture. The simulated rupture poured a fictional 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the harbor.

Following the conclusion of RIMPAC 98, ten ships from six Pacific Rim nations passed in review along Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head crater. The impressive Pass in Review Parade was a final evolution of the biennial exercise. The parade also gave participants a chance to say a final farewell to the people of Hawaii as the ships departed Pearl Harbor.

During RIMPAC 98, Pearl Harbor was the center of action with more than 50 ships filling the harbor. For foreign sailors visiting Hawaii for the first time, RIMPAC also provided an excellent opportunity to enjoy the Hawaiian culture, people and the traditional Hawaiian Aloha spirit of friendship.


RIMPAC 2000 was the 17th in a series of Pacific naval exercises conducted periodically since 1971. RIMPAC 2000 was the largest maritime exercise in the world. This international exercise took place in the waters off Hawaii from May 30 - July 6, 2000. RIMPAC 2000 brought together the maritime forces of Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States of America for training operations. In 2000, the ROK Navy participated in this exercise for the 6th time since its inception in 1990. More than 50 ships, 200 aircraft and 22,000 Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Soldiers and Coast Guardsmen were involved in this regularly-scheduled exercise. This year's exercise involved a wide variety of land- and carrier-based aircraft, amphibious and ground forces, surface combat, support and amphibious ships and submarines.

For five weeks, the armed forces of Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States participated, dealing with a number of high-technology scenarios that simulated real-time naval battles.

The multi-national, multi-faceted naval exercise also included a humanitarian exercise, dubbed "Strong Angel," involving U.S. Marines, Red Cross representatives and personnel from the United Nations Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance. This was the first humanitarian assistance exercise in the 30-year history of RIMPAC. During the operation, Marines established a refugee camp. New computerized language translators, communications and medical devices were tested during this portion of the exercise.

More than 22,000 military personnel, 50 ships and 200 aircraft took part in the exercise, in which a satellite-linked computer network was tested. The Coalition-Wide Area Network (C-WAN) connected all the ships with the command ship of the exercise, USS Coronado, from which Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn, Commander Third Fleet commanded the operation. The system allowed the Third Fleet commander to stay in constant contact with other RIMPAC vessels through special secure web pages. This network approach is fast becoming another weapon used in the 21st Century.

One portion of the exercise included a missile firing exercise during which four decommissioned ships were sunk at the Pacific Missile Range Facility off the island of Kauai. The "Sink-Ex" operation involved firing of more than 100 missiles at the four target ships. The ships were last seen sinking to a depth of 14,000 feet. Conducted at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, north of the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, the sinking exercise (SINKEX) focused on honing weapons firing skills and proficiency. The ex-USS Worden (CG-18), ex-USS Gen. Hugh J. Gaffey (AP-121), ex-USS Buchanan (DDG-14) and ex-USS Ramsey (FFG-2) were sunk between June 14 and June 18. Missile firing and torpedo firing exercises to sink ex-USS Buchanan started June 13. Three Hellfire hits, three harpoon hits and a 2,400 pound laser-guided bomb hit were not enough to sink the ship, which required an additional 200 pounds of explosive charges the morning of June 14 before sinking. Missile and aircraft firing exercises involving nine ships and three different types of aircraft to sink ex-USS Ramsey and ex-USS Gen. Hugh J. Gaffey started June 15. Ex-Ramsey was the first to sink at 1:45 p.m. June 15 after taking surface and airborne harpoons. Ex-Gaffey sunk between 2 and 3 a.m. June 16, nine hours after taking a total of 13 bombs. Ironically, the ship's namesake, Major General Gaffey was killed in a B-25 crash the same day in 1946. The exercise against the ex-Worden started June 17. Worden sustained a continuous attack from two ships and from F-14 Tomcat and F-18 Hornet fighters, finally sinking at 6:01 p.m. June 18, 34 hours after the exercises started.


Commander Third Fleet conducted RIMPAC 2002 in Pearl Harbor, HI from 23 June - 23 July 2002. RIMPAC 2002 aimed to enhance interoperability and proficiency of maritime and air forces to operate in coalition arrangements centered on realistic short notice littoral operations. Countries participating were Australia, Canada, Chile, Peru, United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, United States and Japan. The 25-day drill is designed to respond to contingencies in the Pacific Ocean by the eight countries. RIMPAC 2002 had a final, new phase off Guam, and concluded with port visits by several navies to the American territory.


China's debut in the world's largest naval exercise is a "leap of trust" as it teams with the United States and U.S. allies at a time of heightened regional tension over territorial disputes, a leading Australian Asia expert said 27 June 2014. Michael Wesley, professor of National Security at the Australian National University, told the ABC that China's inclusion in RIMPAC 2014 is highly significant. "It's important to include China in these sorts of coalition exercises in order to offset what is probably a growing belief in China that it is being encircled by tightening alliances and partnerships among its neighbors, and among its neighbors and the United States. "I think that it's also a reasonable leap of trust by the Chinese that they will take part in these U.S.-led exercises that will be heavily participated in by U.S. allies as well."

The Chinese fleet is composed of missile destroyer Haikou, missile frigate Yueyang, supply ship Qiandaohu, hospital ship Peace Ark and two ship-borne helicopters, as well as a commando unit, a diving squad and a medical team. During the maritime drills starting on July 9, the Chinese vessels will join in operations testing weapons firing, sea-lifting of supplies, damage control, anti-piracy and disaster-relief abilities, coordinated interceptions and landings, and joint assaults by warships and ship-borne helicopters.

New Zealand Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman hailed the first berthing in three decades of a New Zealand navy vessel for a major military exercise at the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor as a sign of warming bilateral ties. New Zealand supply ship HMNZS Canterbury had docked at the base in readiness for Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world's biggest maritime military exercise, in waters around Hawaii.

"HMNZS Canterbury's docking at Pearl Harbor marks the first time in 30 years since a New Zealand ship berthed at a U.S. naval base for RIMPAC. It is a tangible sign of the warmth of our relationship with the U.S.," Coleman said in a statement. New Zealand navy vessels had been barred from U.S. military ports in response to New Zealand's ban on nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered vessels entering New Zealand waters, which was passed in the 1980s. During the last RIMPAC exercise in 2012, a New Zealand navy ship had to berth alongside cruise ships at Honolulu's commercial port.

Despite growing tensions between China and United States and its allies over the “militarization” of the South China Sea, China's navy confirmed 02 June 2016 that it will take part in RIMPAC, one of the world’s largest military exercises. China sent five ships to join the Pacific Rim military exercises, that began on June 1 and will last until August 1, near the Hawaiian Islands. China's Defense Ministry said 20 June 2016 that a fleet of its naval vessels is heading for Hawaii to join US-led multinational naval drills. The ministry said the fleet arrived at waters south of Japan's Daito Islands on Saturday and joined 2 US Navy destroyers there. The 5 Chinese vessels, including a missile destroyer and a frigate, will engage in electronic communication training with the US Navy en route. They are scheduled to arrive in Hawaii on June 29th. The Rim of the Pacific Exercise, known as RIMPAC, are held every other year. This is the second time China has taken part. It first joined in 2014.

According to official reports, 45 ships, five submarines and 200 aircraft from 27 nations, with 25,000 military personnel, took part in the event, staging fire, anti-piracy, search and rescue, and, notably, Aegis missile-interception drills. Three Aegis-equipped fleets, from the US, Japan and South Korea, will practice intelligence coordination amid growing concerns of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. This year's exercise includes forces from Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States. Russia took part in RIMPAC in 2012, but canceled its participation in 2014, due to interrupted military cooperation between Moscow and Washington over ongoing territorial disputes in Ukraine.

Twenty-five nations, 46 ships and five submarines, and about 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in RIMPAC 2018 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime exercise; providing a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants to ensure the safety of sea lanes and security of the world’s oceans.

Naval ships from US allies and partners made their way to Hawaii for the 2020 Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), the US-led biennial multinational maritime drill, which will be held from August 17 to 31 this year, despite Hawaiian people's petition to cancel the war games and reports that Hawaii's military novel coronavirus case count still remains a mystery.

The US military has not yet got the virus under control with growing numbers of confirmed cases on its overseas military bases. The epidemic within US army may highly likely be concealed. Yet at this point, the US, with the most coronavirus cases in the world, still decides to continue with RIMPAC in an attempt to showcase its strength, its military muscle, and more importantly, to test the loyalty of its allies and partners.

Invitations to RIMPAC have been sent to 25 countries. For Washington, if any country turns it down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would mean it is questioning the US' leading role in the military field and that the country needs to beware of the possible consequences.

This year, the drill was only be held at sea with "a minimal footprint of staff ashore," according to a Pacific Fleet news release. Face-to-face contacts and gatherings between personnel from different countries will be greatly limited. That being said, the possibility of a large-scale outbreak of COVID-19 during this year's RIMPAC is relatively low. The US Navy is aware that if COVID-19 breaks out during the exercise, there will be severe discord among its allies.

The upcoming RIMPAC came at a time when tensions between China and the US were running high. The US is likely to send some signals during the exercises, claiming that certain drills, such as those for anti-submarine warfare and maritime intercept operations are aimed at certain countries, since the US wants to flex its joint combat capability with its allies to its strategic rivals, especially against the current backdrop. However, the US' allies may be hesitant to follow suit. So in terms of setting the imaginary target of the drill, the US is likely to play a one-man-show.

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Page last modified: 12-10-2021 12:12:12 ZULU