Maui News

RIMPAC 2018 Participants Conduct Second Sinking Exercise off Kaua‘i

July 20, 2018, 8:25 AM HST
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Participants in the Rim of the Pacific exercise sank a second vessel during training on Thursday, July 19, 2018.  The first SINKEX of the 2018 RIMPAC exercise took place on July 12 when the decommissioned ex-USS Racine was sunk in waters 15,000 feet deep, 55 nautical miles north of Kauaʻi.

The guided missile frigate USS McClusky (FFG 41) participates in Operation Martillo Aug. 29, 2014, in the Pacific Ocean. Operation Martillo is a joint, interagency and multinational collaborative effort to deny transnational criminal organizations air and maritime access to the littoral regions of the Central American isthmus. (U.S. Navy file photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jacob Sippel/Released)

In the latest SINKEX event on Thursday, live fire from a ship and an aircraft participating in the RIMPAC exercise sank the decommissioned frigate USS McClusky in waters 15,000 feet deep, and 55 nautical miles north of Kauaʻi.

The sinking exercise provided participating units the opportunity to gain proficiency and confidence in their weapons and systems through realistic training that authorities say could not be duplicated in simulators.

“This SINKEX was invaluable for exercising our interoperability as a combined maritime force, and also demonstrating and testing the tremendous warfighting skills of our men and women,” said RIMPAC Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander Chilean Navy Commodore Pablo Niemann.

Former Navy vessels used in SINKEXs, referred to as hulks, are prepared in strict compliance with regulations prescribed and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency under a general permit the Navy holds pursuant to the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act.

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Each SINKEX is required to sink the hulk in at least 1,000 fathoms (6,000 feet) of water and at least 50 nautical miles from land. Surveys are conducted to ensure people and marine mammals are not in an area where they could be harmed during the event.

PACIFIC MISSILE RANGE FACILITY BARKING SANDS, Hawaii (July 12, 2018) Members of the Western Artillery of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force launch a surface-to-ship missile (SSM) from the Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, July 12, toward decommissioned ex-USS Racine (LST 1191), positioned at sea . U.S. Army photo by Capt. Rachael Jeffcoat/Released)

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Prior to being transported for participation in a SINKEX, each vessel is put through a rigorous cleaning process, including the removal of all polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), transformers and large capacitors, all small capacitors to the greatest extent practical, trash, floatable materials, mercury or fluorocarbon-containing materials, and readily detachable solid PCB items. Petroleum is also cleaned from tanks, piping, and reservoirs.

A Navy environmental, safety and health manager and a quality assurance supervisor inspects the environmental remediation conducted in preparation of a vessel’s use in a SINKEX. Upon completion of the environmental remediation, the manager and supervisor provide signed certification of the work in accordance with EPA requirements.

Ex-McClusky was an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate commissioned in December 1983 and decommissioned in January 2015. The ship was named for Lt. Cmdr. Wade McClusky, a naval aviator who led his squadrons of Douglass Dauntless dive bombers against a Japanese fleet during the famed attack on the island of Midway in June 1942. He went on to distinguish himself in subsequent actions during the war and again in the Korean War before retiring at the rank of rear admiral in 1956. The ship operated worldwide during her more than 30 years of service. During one deployment in 2002, her crew successfully intercepted a drug runner at sea hauling 75 bales of cocaine weighing nearly 4,000 pounds.

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Twenty-five nations, 46 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 27 to Aug. 2 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

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