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PACIFIC OCEAN -- A live-fire exercise, part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012, sank the deactivated ship USNS Niagara Falls (T-AFS-3) in waters 15,480 feet deep, 63 miles southwest of Kauai, Hawaii, about 11:31 a.m., July 14.
A sink exercise (SINKEX) benefits the U.S. Navy and participating allies and partners by providing crews the opportunity to gain proficiency in tactics, targeting and live firing against surface targets, which enhances combat readiness of deployable units.
"These exercises provide important opportunities for realistic at-sea training with live ordnance, conditions that cannot be duplicated otherwise," said Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet Vice Adm. Gerald R. Beaman.
Former Navy vessels used in SINKEXs are prepared in strict compliance with regulations prescribed and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Strict environmental compliance is observed during all SINKEXs. Each SINKEX is required to sink the hulk in at least 1,000 fathoms (6,000 feet) and at least 50 nautical miles from land.
Surveys are conducted to ensure that humans and marine mammals are not in an area where they could be harmed during the event.
USS Niagara Falls (AFS 3) was a Mars-class combat stores ship commissioned in April 1967, decommissioned and transferred to Military Sealift Command in September 1994 as USNS Niagara Falls (T-AFS-3), and deactivated in September 2008.
Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from June 29 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.