The two-yearly large maritime exercise, the Pacific Rim will be held later than usual and become an event at sea only because of concerns COVID-19, the US Pacific Fleet said today.
The 27th RIMPAC in Hawaii will be held August 17-31. Normally, the world’s largest international maritime exercise begins in late June and lasts until July.
“Construction at sea only for RIMPAC 2020 was developed to ensure the safety of all participating military forces by minimizing coastal-based contingents,” Pacific Fleet said in its release. “The commander, US Pacific Fleet, designed the modified RIMPAC plan as a way to conduct meaningful exercises with maximum training value and minimum risk for troops, allies and partners, and the Hawaiian people.”
Governor David Ige said in a statement tonight, “I am glad the Navy has agreed to postpone the RIMPAC 2020 exercise and will do a portion at sea this year to help keep Hawaii safe as we continue to respond to the pandemic COVID -19. I worked with Admiral (Philip S.) Davidson (commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command) to monitor the situation. If conditions change later this summer, we will reassess and respond appropriately. “
The Navy said RIMPAC was designed to foster and maintain cooperative relations, it is very important to ensure the safety of sea lanes and security in supporting the free and open Indo-Pacific region.
The exercise, which takes place in the waters around the Hawaiian islands, “is a unique training platform designed to enhance interoperability and strategic maritime partnerships,” according to the release.
RIMPAC in 2018 attracted 25 countries, 46 surface ships, five submarines, 17 ground forces and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel to Hawaii and Southern California.
“In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that our maritime forces work together to protect vital shipping lanes and ensure freedom of navigation through international waters,” said US Pacific Fleet commander Rear Admiral John Aquilino. “And we will operate safely, using wise mitigation measures.”
Because the US Navy continues to limit the spread of COVID-19, RIMPAC 2020 is not scheduled to include social activities on land, the Navy said.
The Pearl Harbor-Hickam Joint Base will be accessible for logistical support, with a “minimum footprint of staff to land” for command and control, logistics and other support functions, the service said.
The Navy said this year’s exercises would include multinational anti-submarine warfare, maritime interception operations, and direct shot training events, among other cooperative training opportunities. Sustainable planning will remain flexible when Navy leaders monitor and assess developing circumstances.
“We remain committed and able to protect allies and partners throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” Aquilino said. “The flexible approach to RIMPAC 2020 provides the right balance between fighting future enemies and the threat of COVID-19.”
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