Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force warships were in port at Pearl Harbor yesterday for this year's RIMPAC exercises.

RIMPAC nations
practice sub hunt

More than 11,000 personnel from
8 countries are taking part in the exercises

By Gregg K. Kakesako

This year's multinational Rim of the Pacific naval exercises will concentrate on hunting submarines, a U.S. admiral said yesterday.

Three diesel-powered submarines from Japan, South Korea and Australia will participate in the operation that is unlike past RIMPAC exercises, said Rear Adm. Mark Edwards, commander of USS Nimitz battle group's Cruiser-Destroyer Group 5.

More than 36 ships, 24 aircraft and 11,000 military personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States are in the islands for the 18th in the series of biannual maritime war games, which began yesterday and will run through July 22.

Rear Adm. John Hines, this year's task force commander, told an audience of senior officers from the seven Pacific Rim nations and the United Kingdom that lessons learned from previous RIMPAC exercises are now being used by coalition nations operating in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf in the war against terrorism.

However, RIMPAC 2002 has felt the effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

At least one past participant, France, is not part of this year's exercise since its resources were committed to the war on terrorism, said Cmdr. Jacquie Yost, 3rd Fleet spokeswoman.

Two years ago, RIMPAC's roster included the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln among the 50 vessels, 100 aircraft and 22,000 military personnel committed to those exercises.

"Typically, there is always one aircraft carrier in the North Arabian Sea," Yost said. "But after Sept. 11, there has been two. Right after the 9/11, the Carl Vincent and the Enterprise were diverted to the area, impacting upon all Navy operations."

Yost said that the 21 U.S. and five Japanese warships and submarines will leave Pearl Harbor tomorrow to conduct joint missile and gunnery training off Barking Sands on the west shores of Kauai.

Among the targets will be three Vietnam-era naval vessels that have been mothballed at Pearl Harbor since the 1990s.

Yost said that RIMPAC's scenario from July 12 to 17 calls for "a tactical free play" exercise in which different combat situations will be introduced to test the reactions of warship commanders.

"It will culminate with a Marine amphibious assault at PMRF (Pacific Missile Range Facility) on Kauai," she said.

Although not officially a part of RIMPAC, 1,000 Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment stationed at Kaneohe Bay will make use of the USS Tarawa and USS Rushmore, two assault ships brought here from San Diego for the exercise.

Next month, the Marines will be taken to the Big Island where they will spend three weeks at the Pohakuloa Training Area sharpening their infantry and artillery skills.

They will be joined by soldiers from Australia and Tonga, said 1st Lt. Kent Robbins, a Marine Corps spokesman.

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