World’s largest naval drill to be scaled down due to COVID-19
The United States Navy announced it would sponsor the 27th Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC). To be held from August 17 to 31, this year’s drill will be considerably scaled down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hosted by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, this biennial maritime exercise will be an at-sea-only event in light of COVID-19 concerns.
The theme of this year’s RIMPAC is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.”
As explained, the at-sea-only construct for RIMPAC 2020 was developed to ensure the safety of all military forces participating by minimizing shore-based contingents. Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet crafted the modified RIMPAC plan as a way to conduct a meaningful exercise with maximum training value and minimum risk to the force, allies and partners, and the people of Hawaii.
The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC is designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships, critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
The exercise, which takes place in the waters surrounding the Hawaiian islands, is a unique training platform designed to enhance interoperability and strategic maritime partnerships. In 2018, 26 nations participated in and around Hawaii.
“In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that our maritime forces work together to protect vital shipping lanes and ensure freedom of navigation through international waters,” Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Admiral John Aquilino said.
“And we will operate safely, using prudent mitigation measures.”
As the U.S. Navy continues to limit the spread of COVID-19, RIMPAC 2020 is not scheduled to include social events ashore. Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam will be accessible for logistics support, with a minimal footprint of staff ashore for command and control, logistics, and other support functions.
This year’s exercise will include multinational anti-submarine warfare, maritime intercept operations, and live-fire training events, among other cooperative training opportunities. Continued planning will remain flexible as US Navy leaders monitor and assess evolving circumstances.
“We remain committed to and capable of safeguarding allies and partners throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” Aquilino added.
“The flexible approach to RIMPAC 2020 strikes the right balance between combatting future adversaries and the COVID-19 threat.”
RIMPAC 2020 will be led by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. Scott D. Conn.