RIMPAC 2016 participants sink former US Navy frigate

Ships participating in the 2016 edition of RIMPAC sank the decommissioned USS Thach (FFG 43) in waters 15,000 feet (4572 m) deep, 55 nautical miles north of Kauai, Hawaii, using live fire.

Units from Australia, the Republic of Korea and the U.S. participated in the sinking exercise (SINKEX), which provided them the opportunity to gain proficiency in tactics, targeting and live firing against a surface target at sea.

“This SINKEX was a tremendous event for all the units who participated. As you can imagine, the opportunity to fire live ordnances at a real target is incredibly rare and I know that these men and women learned so much today,” said Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Scott Bishop, deputy commander of the RIMPAC Combined Task Force. “This kind of training is vital to strengthening our interoperability and increasing our readiness for operations in the future.”

Former Navy vessels used in SINKEXs are prepared in 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.

According to the navy, 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 humans and marine mammals are not in an area where they could be harmed during the event.

Before a vessel can be used in a SINKEX, it 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.

The decommissioned USS Thach (FFG-43) was the 34th ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates. The ship was named for Naval aviator Adm. John S. Thatch, the developer of the “Thach Weave”; dogfighting tactic in World War II and former Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe from 1965-1967.