14 countries, 34 ships booked for RIMPAC


POSTED: Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Thirty-four ships from 14 countries will participate in this summer's RIMPAC war games—the world's largest multinational naval exercises—with 20,000 participants expected to spend more than $31 million here.

Called Rim of the Pacific 2010, the war games are held biennially and will begin June 23. Besides the 34 ships, five submarines and more than 100 aircraft will participate in the 22nd biennial maneuvers.

This summer's naval war games also will feature the first visit by the Navy's newest warship, the USS Freedom, the first in the new line of littoral combat ships, designed for their ability to operate near shore. The ship has a steel monohull with an aluminum superstructure and is 377 feet long and can go faster than 45 knots, or 52 mph.

The warship began its maiden deployment Feb. 16, more than two years ahead of schedule.

Before arriving at its home port at San Diego last month, the Freedom conducted drug-interdiction operations, making four successful seizures that netted more than five tons of cocaine, two “;go fast”; drug vessels and nine suspected smugglers, the Navy said.

The first RIMPAC, held in 1971, involved forces from the United States, Canada and Australia, all of which have participated in every RIMPAC since. Two years ago, when the last RIMPAC exercise was held, 10 countries, 35 ships, six submarines and 150 aircraft were involved.

Off the waters of Kauai, the destroyers Fletcher, David R. Ray and Cushing and the cruiser Horne were used as target ships.

The Australian navy reported that the frigate HMAS Newcastle left Sydney April 19 for Japan and Canada and then joined the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz for the passage to Hawaii.

Also joining in the naval exercises will be Australian ships Sirius, Warramunga and Kanimbla. In Tahiti the French frigate Prairial left Papeete April 26 to participate in RIMPAC.

This year's exercise also includes units or personnel from Canada, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Peru, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.