RIMPAC: Navy’s Top Sailor Visits the World’s Largest Maritime Exercise

July 25, 2022 Topic: U.S. Navy Region: Asia Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: U.S. NavyRIMPACIndo-PacificGreat Power CompetitionSea Power

RIMPAC: Navy’s Top Sailor Visits the World’s Largest Maritime Exercise

Although RIMPAC has been held continuously since the early seventies, the exercise has recently enjoyed particular importance.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday traveled to Hawaii, where the United States and partner countries are strengthening regional ties.

RIMPAC, or Rim of the Pacific, is a biannual maritime warfare exercise—the world’s largest. Indo-Pacific Command of the U.S. Navy hosts the training in tandem with the U.S.Marine Corps, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Hawaii National Guard.

A statement from the United States Navy explained that this year’s exercise saw “twenty-six nations, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, more than 30 unmanned systems, approximately 170 aircraft, and more than 25,000 personnel” in attendance.

The nation’s top sailor, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, visited Hawaii during the exercise, meeting with Navy sailors as well as sailors from partner countries.

“RIMPAC is the premier international maritime exercise and the largest multinational exercise,” said Gilday. “The complex warfighting exercise in this unique training environment across all combat domains strengthens our ability to work together, hone our skills, and foster trust among nations.”

“Building interchangeability among like-minded Allies and partners demonstrates our solidarity, RIMPAC truly demonstrates the value of maritime partnership,” he added.

Gilday visited the warships of several different RIMPAC participants, including Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Izumo and the South Korean amphibious assault ship ROKS Marado.

“We are joined together by like-minded navies and nations that believe the oceans need to be free and open,” Gilday explained to South Korean sailors aboard the Marado. “The global economy floats on seawater. It takes the commitment of many nations and peoples to protect our security and sustain our shared prosperity.”

This year’s RIMPAC iteration featured the integration of both manned and unmanned systems, manned-unmanned teaming, and artificial intelligence.

“Integrating these nested unmanned technologies, in a distributed warfighting posture, during live-fire sink exercises absolutely help mature our concept of operations as well as inform our understanding of which technologies are the most combat capable,” Gilday said.

One of RIMPAC’s most notable exercises is the culminating live-fire event, which features a decommissioned ship pummeled by a variety of munitions, including anti-ship missiles fired from ships and aircraft as well as torpedoes and other munitions.

Although RIMPAC has been held continuously since the early seventies, the exercise has recently enjoyed particular importance. Prompted in part by Beijing’s expansionist foreign policy, countries neighboring China that have an interest in a free and open Pacific have participated in the exercise. Moreover, given the increasingly tense situation in the western Pacific, RIMPAC is more likely to gain participants in the future than lose them.

Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer with the National Interest. A graduate of UCLA, he also holds a Master of Public Policy and lives in Berlin. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society for both print and radio. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson.

Image: U.S. Navy/Flickr.