(Jeff) This week, the Royal Canadian Navy Task Group successfully completed their deployment on Exercise Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC 2020.
Hosted every two years by the United States Navy, Canada has participated in every rendition of RIMPAC since its origin in 1971. This year was no different, despite the exercise being “at-sea only” to address measures surrounding COVID-19.
(Capt(N) Robinson) The big thing that everybody got out of this was exceptional, first-class training which was offered during this two-week at-sea exercise around Hawaii. The American’s have some of the best live-fire ranges in the world so we were actually able to do gunnery, fire weapons systems in a safe environment. An overall the crew, both the ships and the aircraft involved, so both of our helicopters, were able to do the core warfare skills that they’re expected to do day-in and day-out on operations. So that was probably the biggest satisfier we had out of this exercise.
I think the most challenging thing we had was COVID-19. That started from months ago, but really the lead-up to RIMPAC itself was all-hands-on-deck evolution of making sure that all the crew members were safe. We did a modified quarantine back in Canada, tested all the members to make sure they were COVID-free, and then sailing itself. So we had great confidence right at the beginning that everybody was COVID-free and that there wouldn’t be any sort of disease on-board the ship. Thankfully nobody got sick, even as much as a cold.
The other aspect, which was probably a bit more challenging, was since this was an at-sea only exercise we didn’t have the normal facet-to-face interaction with other partner nations and allies. Everything was done remotely. Really, the closest we got to anyone was fifty yards when ships were doing refueling at sea. So we got to wave! Obviously we still got to speak to each other on phones or on chat, that sort of thing, but that was the only aspect we really missed of a face-to-ace interaction.
From a CAF perspective in Canada, the fact that we get to interact with multiple friends and allies – there were 10 nations involved, 22 ships, 1 submarine – that speaks to the testament of the strong bonds we have with our friends and allies. And in the event we have to conduct an operation with any of these nations, we’ve already solidified our relationship and we can leverage that in the future if required.