PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- Military leaders from 22 nations formally launched Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) 2012, July 2. RIMPAC is hosted biennially by U.S. Pacific Fleet in and around Hawaii.
U.S. and international speakers at the opening press conference included Adm. Cecil D. Haney, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet; Vice Adm. Gerald R. Beaman, Commander of the U.S. Third Fleet; Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Rear Adm. Fumiyuki Kitagawa, Commander of Escort Flotilla Three; and Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Ron Lloyd, Chief of Force Development.
"The theme of capable, adaptable partners resonates here in what is the world's largest international maritime exercise," Haney said.
Haney said 22 nations, 40 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 people are participating in RIMPAC 2012. The exercise is designed to enhance the tactical capabilities of participating units in major aspects of maritime operations at sea. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd in the series, which began in 1971. It is the world's largest international maritime exercise.
RIMPAC, as well as the cooperation and interoperability it fosters, "is critical to ensure the safety of the sea lanes and security of the world's oceans," said Haney, who was flanked by representatives of the participating nations during a pierside press conference.
Haney noted that this year's RIMPAC is unique with a number of exercise firsts:
- The naval and air functional component commands in RIMPAC are being led by international partners;
- Includes a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) component;
- The U.S. Navy will demonstrate its "Great Green Fleet" approach with some surface warships and aircraft functioning on biofuel blends
Beaman, said the HA/DR portion of the exercise is a five-day exercise that involves Hawaii disaster responders as well as more medical personnel than have participated in past RIMPACs. He also highlighted the international leadership roles throughout the exercise.
"It is the first time in the RIMPAC series that the component commanders are led by other than U.S. leaders," said Beaman. "It's a sign of where we have come with this exercise and we're excited, each and every one of us to be here and to carry out RIMPAC 2012."
Kitagawa, of Japan, took a moment to recognize the growth in the international participation over previous years.
"I am very glad to welcome seven countries of new partners, and the opportunity for us to train together," said Kitagawa.
Kitagawa also noted that this is the 17th RIMPAC Japan is participating in, and he expressed his gratitude to all of the nations participating in RIMPAC for the assistance they provided to Japan in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
"Continued participation in RIMPAC and regular deployments in the Pacific Rim also allows us to renew our focus on the region on a biennial basis," said Lloyd of Canada. He also thanked Hawaii for "what is truly first-class, world-class hospitality" that is being offered to all of the RIMPAC participants.
This year's exercise includes units or personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.