RIMPAC 2018: A look behind the scenes of the world’s largest naval exercise

World Today


This year’s Rim of the Pacific – or RIMPAC – exercise is underway. It’s the world’s largest naval exercise, held off the coast of Hawaii every other year. 26 nations and some 25,000 personnel are taking part.

CGTN’s Nathan King got to experience it up close with the Royal Australian Navy.

An Australian flag flutters on the deck of the HMAS Adelaide. But down below, it’s more like the United Nations.

Over a thousand servicemen and women from nine nations are on board.

It’s been said an army marches on its stomach. Navies sail that way, too!

But then it’s time for today’s mission – one that hasn’t been done before. Thirteen U.S. armored amphibious vehicles have to make it from a beach onto the back of a ship, dealing with swirling seas, all without a hitch.

Helicopters from the flight deck provide air cover, guiding in the U.S. Marines. It’s a bumpy ride with a few knocks, but they make it.

The HMAS Adelaide is an incredibly versatile vessel. Helicopters can be launched off the top of it, and boats brought in or sent out from the bottom. The whole ship is designed to do anything you want with it.

Captain Jonathan Early keeps a close eye on the mission. The HMAS Adelaide is the largest ship in the Australian navy and this is a big opportunity to show what it can do.

“We can pack a punch,” he says. “We can carry a lot of capability here. It’s about influence. It’s about global responsibility, about regional responsibility of what we can do.”

While there is a lot of hard power on display, the fact that the ship is hosting personnel from other nations – who are working with and learning from each other – is a display of soft power, too.

Australia doesn’t participate in naval operations with the United States in the South China Sea or other potential flashpoints, so it’s more likely that the HMAS Adelaide will be used for disaster relief and humanitarian missions in the future.

“Volcanoes happen. Tsunamis happen. Tornadoes happen. Floods happen,” Captain Early explains. “And when they happen, they happen relatively quickly, and our ability to mobilize forces and capability to help people in need – that’s the key aim here.”