Sailor diesRim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, the largest peacetime maritime naval exercise, suffered the first casualty in its 31-year history when a Peruvian sailor died while clearing a 6-inch gun off the coast of Kauai late Friday.
in naval exercise
The death aboard
a Peruvian frigate is the
first in RIMPAC history
By Gregg K. Kakesako
The identity of the sailor attached to the Peruvian warship, BAP Montero, will not be identified until his next of kin have been notified. His body was taken to Tripler Army Medical Center. Cmdr. Jacquie Yost, Navy spokeswoman, said the incident will not affect the rest of the planned RIMPAC exercises.
The Navy said the Peruvian vessel, a 336-foot frigate, was participating in a gunnery exercise at the Pacific Missile Range Facility 115 miles off of Kauai's Barking Sands beaches.
The sailor was struck and killed around 6:30 p.m. Friday by a gun-loading mechanism when he attempted to clear the 6-inch gun. He was one of 250 sailors assigned to the Peruvian frigate.
The Montero, commanded by Capt. Luis Chumbiauca, was participating with five U.S. Navy and one Canadian warship in a multinational RIMPAC ship-sinking exercise.
A variety of surface-to-surface missiles and naval guns were used to sink the USS Ratheburne, a 32-year-old decommissioned frigate.
Two other "sinkex" exercises will be held this week when the USS White Plains will be used for target practice tomorrow and the USS Harold Holt, another decommissioned frigate, on July 10. All sinkings will be off the coast of Kauai.
The only other major RIMPAC incident occurred in 1996, when the Japanese accidentally shot down a U.S. attack bomber during a gunnery practice. The Pacific nation maritime exercise has been held biannually since 1971.
Thirty-six ships, 24 aircraft and 11,000 personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States are participating in this year's Pacific war games, which have been affected by the war on terrorism.
The RIMPAC war games were conceived during the Cold War to combat the Soviet Union's deep-ocean threat.
This year's RIMPAC war games, the 18th, began June 26 and runs through July 22.
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