KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii Island residents may hear low-flying planes or see naval vessels off the coast when the 26-nation Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) maritime exercise kicks off June 27.
Some 26 nations, 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are expected to participate in the biennial RIMPAC exercise that runs through Aug. 2 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California, according to the U.S. Navy Indo-Pacific Command.
RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime exercise, provides a unique training opportunity designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series, which began in 1971.
This year’s theme is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.”
Participating nations and forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The training program includes amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as counter-piracy operations, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal, and diving and salvage operations.
This year’s exercise includes forces from Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.
This is the first time Brazil, Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are participating in RIMPAC.
China, which participated in RIMPAC 2016 and 2014, had its invitation withdrawn May 23 by the Pentagon, which cited Beijing’s “continued militarization” of the South China Sea.