Military Sealift Command Completes Support of RIMPAC 2016

Six Military Sealift Command ships have completed their support of the bi-annual, Rim of the Pacific 2016 exercise in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

From the start of RIMPAC on June 28 to the completion on Aug. 4, USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187), USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) and USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11) delivered the fuel to power the surface and aviation forces, as well as the groceries that sustained the ships’ crews during the exercise.  The four Combat Logistics Force Ships delivered over 11 million gallons of diesel ship fuel, nearly 6 million gallons of JP5 aviation fuel and 1265 pallets of food and supplies during 108 replenishment-at-sea events.   This unprecedented level of at-sea support during this exercise represents the fruits of a year-long logistics planning and coordination effort between the MSCPAC CLO team, Military Sealift Command Officer – Pearl Harbor, Fleet Logistics Center – Pearl Harbor, and the afloat units.

Civil service mariners from Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) load pallets of supplies before returning to sea to provide logistics services to ships participating in RIMPAC 2016.

Civil service mariners from Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) load pallets of supplies before returning to sea to provide logistics services to ships participating in RIMPAC 2016.

In addition to the delivery of fuel and stores, the ships provided personnel transfer between ships via helicopter air transport, training platforms for small boat boarding exercises, training platforms for helicopter squadron of various commands and delivery of spare parts and vital equipment to naval forces at sea.

“Having done half of this year’s UNREP’s during RIMPAC, it’s been quite a challenge,” said Capt. Dan Glazier, Washington Chambers’ civil service master. “Making sure the schedule coordination and communications between all the ships and all the navies involved are kept flowing, was very important, and this provided us with a lot of unseen benefits when it comes to fleet readiness and our ability to provide services during future missions.”

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752)prepares to receive fuel from Military Sealift Command underway replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), during Rim of the Pacific exercise 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart/Released)

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752)prepares to receive fuel from Military Sealift Command underway replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), during Rim of the Pacific exercise 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart/Released)

 

On the ground, in San Diego, the MSCPAC Combat Logistic Office coordinated the acquisition and movement of all the cargo needs for the entire exercise.  The MSCPAC CLO served as the principle integrator between fleet planners and logistics partners to support onload and delivery of at-sea requirements.  Working in concert directly with Commander Third Fleet and Commander Task Force 173, the MSCPAC CLO coordinated not only the delivery of food and stores, but also the pierside time at the correct pier for the loadouts of cargo to the specific ships scheduled for later RAS.

Building on RIMPAC 2016’s theme, “Capable, Adaptive, Partners,”  rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) conducted a training exercise with The Chinese Navy submarine rescue ship Chang Dao (867). The ships conducted a simulated submarine rescue event.  Working with the U.S. Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1 (MUDSU-1), the crew of Safeguard loaded, positioned and placed a U.S. faux-NATO submarine rescue chamber (SRC) false seat on the sea floor at a depth of approximately 180 feet.  This was done using the ship’s 40 ton capacity boom crane. The false seat functioned as a simulated downed submarine, and was the focus of rescue operations. Safeguard’s ability to lay in a multi-point moor provided a stable platform for diving operations needed in the placement and recovery of the false seat.  Following the placement of the false seat, Chang Dao launched their LR7 free-swimming rescue vehicle which was able locate and attach to the false seat, simulating a submarine rescue.  Safeguard’s ability to set a multi-point moor provided a stable platform for diving operations needed in the placement and recovery of the false seat.

“The purpose of this exercise was to demonstrate the rescue capabilities of both navies and our abilities to work together in an emergency rescue situation,” explained Capt. Mark Wilson, Safeguards civil service master.  “Safeguard’s tasking has brought her into joint operations with many ally nations’ and their military forces within the Asian-Pacific Theater. Our work with Chang Dao in this year’s RIMPAC exercise went smoothly and illustrates the cooperation and interoperability between our two navies. Training with the Chinese in this event illustrates, to both nations, that should an emergency occur, both navies can operate jointly to perform a rescue.”

An LR-7 submersible undersea rescue vehicle from submarine rescue ship Changdao (867) submerges off the coast of Hawaii to perform a mating evolution between the LR-7 and a U.S. faux-NATO rescue seat laid by USNS Safeguard (T-ARS-50), during Rim of the Pacific 2016.

An LR-7 submersible undersea rescue vehicle from submarine rescue ship Changdao (867) submerges off the coast of Hawaii to perform a mating evolution between the LR-7 and a U.S. faux-NATO rescue seat laid by USNS Safeguard (T-ARS-50), during Rim of the Pacific 2016.

 

MSC fleet ocean tug USNS Navajo (T-ATF 169) delivered decommissioned USS Thatch (FFG 43) and decommissioned USS Crommelin (FFG 37) to sites 50 miles offshore where they were used as part of a sinking exercise or SINKEX.   The SINKEXs provided the U.S. Navy and participating allies and partners the opportunity to gain proficiency in tactics, targeting and live firing against surface targets, which enhances combat readiness of deployable units.

One-hundred-fourteen MSC-assigned Navy Reservists made their mark as well.  Thirteen-man Cargo Afloat Rig Teams aboard provided additional manpower during UNREPs onboard Kaiser, Rappahannock and Rainier.   Other Reservists, from Military Sealift Command Pacific and West Coast Expeditionary Port Units 114, 115, 116 and 117, provided maritime logistics planning and shore support to Commander Task Group 173.1 as watch standers at the Pacific Warfighting Center in Pearl Harbor.   These Reservists provided comprehensive planning and coordination for all RASs, CONREPS and VERTREPS conducted during the exercise.  This included arranging berthing space for in port ships, loading of fuel and stores and coordinating rendezvous locations and times.

“This year’s RIMPAC has really tested MSC ability to coordinate, man and execute one of the largest logistical support missions in our wheelhouse,” explained Tim McCully, deputy commander, Military Sealift Command Pacific.  “The cooperation and the level of communication between the ships-at-sea, the teams on the ground and the Navy Reservists at the CTF-173 Pacific Warfighting Center, was the reason this year’s RIMPAC was so successful.  Everyone involved displayed the high level of professionalism that has become synonymous with MSC and its operations.”

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As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provided a unique training opportunity that helped participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.  RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971

Twenty-six nations, 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in the biennial RIMPAC.  This year’s exercise included forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, People’s Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

 

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