By LCDR FENN KEMP, Australian Navy – The Commander of Australia’s contingent to the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, CDRE Stuart Mayer, says this RIMPAC will be among the largest and most important exercises Australia has participated in for many years.

More than 1200 ADF personnel are arriving in Hawaii to take part in RIMPAC which is designed to test their interoperability with 14 Pacific Rim nations, including the United States, South Korea, Indonesia and Canada.

Three Australian Navy ships (HMA ships Kanimbla, Newcastle and Warramunga) are taking part this year. They are being joined by members of 2 RAR from Townsville, two RAAF AP-3C Orions from RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia and Navy Clearance Divers.

Commodore Mayer says the biennial exercise will continue to provide a unique challenge to all involved. “RIMPAC is the ultimate test of how we operate with our Pacific partners,” Commodore Mayer said. “Whether you are a member of the flight crew on an RAAF Orion, an Australian soldier operating with the US Marine Corps or a sailor on one of our Navy’s three ships attending this year, RIMPAC throws up challenges rarely encountered on other exercises.”

This RIMPAC will also give both Navy and Army the chance to exercise in an amphibious space. “The first of two new Australian amphibious ships (LHDs)  is due  to be complete in 2014 so we continue to exercise our developing amphibious capability  in this environment.” Commodore Mayer said. “The ADF continues to develop and refine its amphibious capability and knowledge in preparation for the capability increase presented by the arrival of the LHD. The information sharing opportunities presented by RIMPAC directly contribute to our preparations for the LHD . This is an exciting new capability we are taking on and all three services will have a role to play.”

This RIMPAC will be the last for the Navy’s 817 Sea King Squadron which is due to be de-commissioned in 2011. “The Sea Kings have a long history with the RAN and have provided excellent support throughout their operational service. Commodore Mayer said. “The flexibility provided by this capable aircraft will be put to good use, particularly during the amphibious phase of this exercise.”

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