Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC)
Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) is the world’s largest maritime military exercise that involves forces from many countries. RIMPAC is run every two years in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. Nations with an interest in the Pacific Rim region send ships, aircraft and troops to take part in the exercise.
Over 1 000 Canadian sailors, soldiers, and aviators participated in RIMPAC from June 27 to August 2, 2018. The exercise was led by the United States Navy. It took place in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.
The Royal Canadian Navy sent over 675 members to participate in RIMPAC, as well as:
- HMCS Vancouver
- HMCS Ottawa
- HMCS Whitehorse
- HMCS Yellowknife
- the Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment ship, Motor Vessel (MV) Asterix.
The ships participated in a wide scope of training scenarios, such as:
- anti-submarine warfare
- maritime interdiction operations
- mine sweeping and neutralization
- command and control and communication operations
- ship manoeuvering
- standard naval drills
- weapons firings
- sea combat
MV Asterix conducted 27 successful replenishments at sea. RCN Clearance Divers conducted explosive ordnance disposal and salvage diving operations with divers from other nations.
Approximately 170 Canadian Army soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, were part of the combined Marine Air-Ground Task Force in Southern California.
They conducted numerous multinational training events, including:
- complex live fire ranges
- infantry immersion training
- aviation drills
- amphibious assault training
The Royal Canadian Air Force deployed approximately 45 members and a CP-140 Maritime Patrol Aircraft. It conducted more than a dozen anti-submarine warfare missions, amassing over 100 hours of flying time.
There was a national command and support team in location. These 42 personnel provided real life support to the exercise participants.
The CAF also contributed around 120 personnel to work in the headquarters and support the exercise. This included senior officers who are working in key positions:
- Rear Admiral Bob Auchterlonie was the Deputy Commander Combined Task Force RIMPAC
- Captain (Navy) Matthew Coates was the Deputy Commander Combined Maritime Component Command
- Colonel Michael Atkins was the Deputy Commander Combined Air Component Command
- Colonel Dennis O’Reilly was the Combined Air Operations Centre Director
- Captain (Navy) Matthew Bowen was the Third Fleet Deputy Exercise Director
RIMPAC provides a training opportunity for nations to:
- enhance the way their forces work together
- enhance the way their forces work with other nations
- improve readiness for a wide range of possible military operations
- strengthen military-to-military partnerships
Canada has taken part in every RIMPAC since it began in 1971. The exercise is a training opportunity for all Canadian Armed forces (CAF) branches every two years. The Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force all take part. They train together (jointly) with joint allies and partners from other nations.
The joint forces that take part in RIMPAC are made up of CAF members and assets from across Canada. They may be drawn from any or all of the main CAF branches.
- The CAF objectives during RIMPAC are to:
- develop and enact plans to enable the navy, army and air force to operate as a joint force within a coalition of other nations
- enhance the CAF’s ability to conduct missions with other nations, that fit with Canada’s federal objectives
- develop skills and procedures designed to foster military capabilities. These include:
- communications with partners
- crisis response
RIMPAC began in 1971 as an annual exercise. Since 1974, it has been scheduled every second year. Canada, the United States and Australia have taken part in every exercise since its inception. They are the only nations that have done this.
Some other nations that have taken part in RIMPAC include:
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
- United Kingdom
The Pacific Rim region is a hub of international activity. It has great importance for commerce between countries. The area itself is too large for any one nation to monitor. This means that nations with shared goals need to work together to monitor the area and meet its unique challenges.
The Pacific Ocean remains an important area of Canadian interest. More Canadian trade occurs across the Pacific than across the Atlantic.
RIMPAC takes place in three phases:
- Harbour Phase
- Force Integration Training Phase
- Free Play Phase
Each phase offers a different experience to learn, each one becoming more complex than the last. This allows for service members to assume a wide variety of leadership positions.
The Harbour Phase is designed to build professional and personal relationships between military members from other nations. They meet face to face for briefings, training and detailed planning. The aim is to allow participants to:
- get to know their exercise colleagues
- finalize details of plans
- lay the foundation for professional and successful operations
The Force Integration Phase involves a structured and detailed training program. It develops the skills of the units that take part. It is aimed at enabling participants to operate at the task force level. It exercises each nation’s ability to operate in a robust command and control setting with other nations. This phase also includes a variety of live training at sea, underwater, on the ground, and in the air.
The Free Play Phase tests military unit skills during a scenario. Component commanders and subordinate units respond to scenarios that become more and more intense. These include realistic situations that nations could face in the Pacific Rim. As a result, military units and members that take part experience challenging, full-spectrum operations. These cover surface, submarine, air, and land threats.
Canada took part in RIMPAC 2016 from June 30 to August 4. More than 1,500 CAF navy, army and air force members deployed. The 2016 exercise brought together the armed forces of 27 nations. In total, it included:
- 25 000 military personnel;
- 45 ships;
- five submarines; and
- more than 200 aircraft.
RIMPAC 2016 was the 25th time the exercise has run. This year the CAF deployed:
- A maritime component comprising:
- four ships (HMCS Calgary, HMCS Vancouver, HMCS Saskatoon and HMCS Yellowknife);
- a Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) team of clearance divers; and
- a forward logistics team;
- A land component comprising:
- an infantry company from the Second Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment, based out of Valcartier, Quebec;
- An air task force comprising:
- several fixed-wing aircraft (eight CF-188 Hornets, one CC-130 Hercules, and one CP-140 Aurora);
- a maritime helicopter detachment; and
- a tactical aviation detachment with four CH-146 Griffons and two CH-147 Chinooks; and
- More than 1,500 CAF members. These included command, staff and support personnel.
RIMPAC 2014 ran between June 26 and August 1. The exercise involved a total of:
- forty-seven ships;
- six submarines;
- more than 200 aircraft; and
- about 25,000 military personnel.
- more than 1000 CAF members;
- a Company Group based on a Rifle Company from the Third Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based out of Edmonton, Alberta;
- three ships (HMCS Calgary, HMCS Nanaimo and HMCS Whitehorse);
- one submarine (HMCS Victoria); and
- several aircraft (six CF-188 Hornets, one CC-130 Hercules, one CC-150 Polaris and three CP-140 Auroras).
Senior CAF members held several key leadership positions, including:
- Rear-Admiral Gilles Couturier: Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander (CFMCC);
- Colonel Dave Lowthian: Deputy Commander Combined Forces Air Component Command (D/CFACC); and
- Colonel Iain Huddleston: Deputy Commander Combined Task Force (D/CTF) 172.
RIMPAC 2012 ran between June 29 and August 3. The exercise involved a total of:
- forty-two ships;
- six submarines;
- more than 200 aircraft; and
- about 25 000 personnel.
- more than 1,400 CAF members;
- one RCN destroyer (HMCS Algonquin)
- one RCN frigate (HMCS Ottawa);
- one RCN submarine (HMCS Victoria); and
- three RCN maritime coastal defence vessels (HMCS Brandon, HMCS Saskatoon and HMCS Yellowknife).
CAF military officers held three senior positions in RIMPAC 2012. They were:
- Rear-Admiral Ron Lloyd: Deputy Commander Combined Task Force;
- Brigadier-General Michael Hood: Combined Forces Air Component Commander; and
- Commodore Peter Ellis: Commander Combined Task Force 176—an amphibious task group led by USS Essex.
This was the first time that non-American officers led combined task force components during RIMPAC.
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