RIMPAC submarines showcase capability in undersea domain

Multinational special operations forces participate in a submarine insertion exercise with the fast-attack submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776) and combat rubber raiding craft off the coast of Oahu during the Rim of the Pacific exercise, July 9.
U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Daniel Hinton

Lt. Egdanis Torres Sierra

COMSUBPAC Public Affairs

Multinational submarine forces conducted high-tech scenario-based exercises in the undersea domain enhancing partnership and cooperation during the world’s largest international maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) June 27 through Aug. 2.

The Virginia-class fast-attack submarines USS Hawaii (SSN 776), USS Illinois (SSN 786) and Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717) alongside Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS Rankin (SSG 78) and Republic of Korea Navy submarine ROKS Park Wi (SS 065) conducted carefully coordinated operations ranging from anti-submarine warfare missions to supporting special forces in amphibious operations.

With a stated goal to build cooperation among RIMPAC participants, these submarine forces employed unique training opportunities designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships, critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s interconnected oceans.

“The integration of the force as a whole collective partnership Navy has been impressive,” said Rear Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and the theater anti-submarine warfare commander for RIMPAC 2018.

“This is a two-year planning process and about a two-month execution. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly our partners and allies can come together, and within a short period of time, (and) create such an incredible force working together so collaboratively.”

One of the highlights of RIMPAC 2018 was live-fire demonstration, for the first time in 20 years, of the submarine-launched Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) system conducted by Olympia.

Following the successful completion of two SINKEX launches, the submarine force pursues to reintroduce the Harpoon ASCM system into their arsenal inventory to improve lethality, expand capabilities, and ensure mission readiness.

“Today’s highly capable navies and adversary countries, the competitive countries that we are in power competition, have extremely good surface ships with very capable missile systems themselves,” Caudle said.

Today, with the potential threat from great power states or rogue nations, there is again a need for a submarine-launched ASCM capability.

“This multinational platform of exercises provided a convenient venue to safely demonstrate the Harpoon ASCM system,” Caudle said.

In addition to the Harpoon engineering team, the crew onboard the submarine practiced tactics, techniques and procedures to shoot the Harpoon missile.

“We shot the Harpoon, which worked perfectly, went into cruise, and hit the decommissioned ex-USS Racine (LST-1191) dead center,” Caudle recounted.

“The success of the Harpoon launched by Olympia is a testament to the dedication and cooperation of our technical and operational partners.”

The USS Hawaii (SSN 776) supported multinational Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel from the United States, Republic of Korea, Republic of the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Peru, and Japan executing a submarine insertion evolution at sea off the coast of Oahu.

The submarine, using a reconfigured torpedo room, successfully transported about 30 multinational SOF operators to an undisclosed debarkation point for insertion to the beach by using rigid hulled inflatable boats.

“It sounds like it should be easy, but it’s a lot of work,” said (former) Cmdr. John C. Roussakies, commanding officer of the USS Hawaii (SSN 776). “It took five to six sailors to carry each raft onto the sub, as we were ‘rocking and rolling’ on a the surface.”

SOF personnel used the submarine’s lockout chamber to exit the submarine, inflate rigid hull inflatable boats, and finally make an amphibious landing to carry out a mission as part of the exercise.

“The main purpose of RIMPAC is to bring countries together and build partnerships,” Roussakies said.

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Category: News