Rim of the Pacific

Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) is the world’s largest international maritime exercise comprised of nations with an interest in the Pacific Rim region. RIMPAC is conducted on a biennial basis from the Hawaiian Islands and Pearl Harbour.

Purpose

RIMPAC provides an important training opportunity to:

  • enhance interoperability between participating forces;
  • improve readiness for a wide range of potential operations; and
  • strengthen military-to-military partnerships.

RIMPAC 2016

Canada’s participation in the world’s largest international Maritime Exercise, RIMPAC 2016, will soon begin/has begun. From June 30 until August 4, 2016, more than 1,500 Canadian sailors, soldiers airmen and airwomen will participate in the United States Navy-led exercise in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. This year’s exercise brings together 25,000 personnel, 45 ships, five submarines, and more than 200 aircraft from the armed forces of 27 nations. 

This is the 25th iteration of this exercise, which is held every two years. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is deploying:

  • 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 aircraft (eight CF-188 Hornets, one CC-130 Hercules, one CC-150 Polaris 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 sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen and several command, staff and support personnel.

Canada’s objectives

Canada has participated in every RIMPAC since its inception in 1971. The biennial exercise provides an opportunity for all services (Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force) to train in a joint environment along with international allies and partners.

The joint forces deployed on RIMPAC comprise personnel and assets from across Canada, and may be drawn from any or all of the primary force-generators of the Canadian Armed Forces.

The CAF objectives during RIMPAC are to:

  • develop and implement plans to enable the army, navy and air force to operate as a joint force within a multinational coalition setting;
  • enhance the CAF’s ability to conduct international missions in accordance with the Government of Canada’s objectives; and
  • develop skills and procedures designed to foster operability, readiness, communications with partners and crisis response capabilities.

Background

RIMPAC began in 1971 as an annual exercise. Since 1974, the exercise has been scheduled every second year. Canada, the United States and Australia are the only nations to have participated in every exercise since its inception.

Other nations that have participated in RIMPAC include: Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, and the United Kingdom, among others.  

The area

The Pacific Rim region is a hub of international activity and has great importance for international commerce. The area itself is too large for any one nation to monitor and requires the ability of likeminded nations 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.

Exercise phases

RIMPAC takes place in three phases: Harbour, Force Integration Training and Free Play Phases. Each phase offers a different experience to learn and allows service members opportunities to assume a wide variety of leadership positions.

The Harbour Phase is designed to build professional and personal relationships between individuals from participating nations. Personnel have the opportunity to 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 and lay the foundation for a successful and professional operating environment.  

The Force Integration Phase involves a structured and detailed training program aimed at enabling participants to operate at the task force level. It exercises each nation’s ability to operate in a robust and multinational command and control environment. This phase also includes:

  • live-fire gunnery and missile exercises;
  • maritime interdiction and vessel boarding exercises;
  • anti-surface warfare;
  • anti-submarine warfare;
  • underwater warfare and naval manoeuvre exercises;
  • air defence and amphibious landings exercises;
  • explosive ordinance disposal;
  • diving and salvage operations; and
  • mine clearance operations.

While the Force Integration Training Phase develops the skills of participating units, the Free Play Phase tests those skills during a scenario. Component commanders and subordinate units respond to increasingly intense scenarios, including realistic situations that nations could face in the Pacific Rim. As a result, participating units and personnel experience challenging full-spectrum operations that cover air, surface, submarine and land threats.

Past Deployments

2014

2014

RIMPAC 14 took place between 26 June and 1 August 2014 in the Hawaiian and Southern California area. Canada deployed:

  • more than 1,000 sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen;
  • 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 members of the Canadian Armed Forces held several key leadership positions, including:

  • Rear-Admiral Gilles Couturier was the Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander (CFMCC);
  • Colonel Dave Lowthian was the Deputy Commander Combined Forces Air Component Command (D/CFACC); and
  • Colonel Iain Huddleston was the Deputy Commander Combined Task Force (D/CTF) 172.

In total, the exercise involved 47 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and roughly 25,000 personnel from 22 nations, including: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, People’s Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

2012

2012

In 2012, the exercise occurred between 29 June and runs until 3 August. Canada deployed:

  • more than 1,400 sailors, soldiers and airmen and air women;
  • two Royal Canadian Navy ships (HMCS Algonquin and HMCS Ottawa);
  • one submarine (HMCS Victoria); and
  • three maritime coastal defence vessels (HMCS Brandon, HMCS Saskatoon and HMCS Yellowknife).  

Canadian military officers held three senior positions in RIMPAC 2012. It was the first time that non-American officers commanded components of the combined task force during RIMPAC.

Rear-Admiral Ron Lloyd was the Deputy Commander Combined Task Force;

Brigadier-General Michael Hood was the Combined Forces Air Component Commander; and

Commodore Peter Ellis was the Commander Combined Task Force 176 – an amphibious task group led by USS Essex.

In total, RIMPAC 2012 included 42 ships, six submarines, over 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel. Participating nations included: Australia, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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