Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and is responsible for providing realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

Archive for July, 2012

Reservists Support Naval Expeditionary Force Intelligence During RIMPAC 2012

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Dille, RIMPAC Public Affairs
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – As exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 entered the final weeks, amphibious operations; gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises as well as counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations that dominated in the first half gave way to a coordinated, tactical phase, where a Navy Reserve intelligence team helped drive the scenario.

Thirteen Reservists specializing in military intelligence integrated with the naval expeditionary force (NEF), one of seven joint task force commands working under the combined force maritime component commander to respond to the military scenarios of RIMPAC. The Reservists’ analysis of things like bomb attack reports, enemy activities and civilian emergencies within the fictitious exercise scenario were directly accessible to expeditionary force leaders.

The Reserve intelligence team, made up of five officers and eight enlisted Intelligence Specialists (IS), integrated into the watch center at the NEF command post on the waterfront of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The NEF command post also housed Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 1 command operations.

Two of the Reserve intelligence team officers, both explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) specialists, served as liaison naval officer (LNO) consultants at the Pacific Warfighting Center (PWC) on Ford Island, while two intelligence officers served at the NEF command post, one as a watch captain and the other overseeing intelligence operations. The third officer, Capt. Paul Jensen, is the commanding officer of the EODGRU 1 Reserve component, and served as deputy NEF commodore during the exercise.

“Getting to take part in a real world, high-level exercise, the training, the experience can’t be attained anywhere else,” said Jensen. “You can’t attain that on a drill weekend, you can’t get it at a Reserve-only exercise; our immersion into the jobs we would do if we were called upon to activate is the main point of us coming here, and the main value that we take away.”

The Reserve intelligence team’s immersion during RIMPAC involved living and working in air-conditioned tents at the EODGRU 1 compound, the unit whose headquarters became NEF headquarters during RIMPAC. According to Jensen, the NEF is a relatively new concept where an adaptive force package is assembled from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command forces based on a specific mission and then deployed as the lead element into a conflict to assist the host nation with internal defense, and air and sea port defense until the arrival of follow on forces. The adaptive force package is assembled with capabilities that can range from explosive ordnance disposal, diving and salvage, maritime security, naval construction (Seabees), maritime civil affairs, intelligence, riverine, and combat camera. This year, NEF had command and control over 18 units from coalition partner nations including Australian, Russia, and Canada, in addition to U.S. forces and the Reserve intelligence team who contributed niche support at the headquarters level.

“I have found that it is one of the best cases of integration of reservists and the active component,” said Jensen. “They’re not looking for stuff for us to do, we immediately integrated in and offered up increased capacity in those mission areas that they maintain.”

One key mission area during the tactical phase of RIMPAC was locating simulated improvised explosive devices. For the intelligence team, this meant the IS’s monitored the internal network known as “CENTRIX,” where the exercise scenario is played out in a sort of virtual reality. Intelligence information was sent, or “injected,” into the intelligence watch monitor by exercise controllers know as “the White Cell,” or by other exercise sources, through notes within CENTRIX, usually an email.

“In real life, it would be coming in from all different directions,” said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Brad Vancleave, a nine-year Reservist serving as request for information (RFI) and information collections manager. Information sources could include people returning from the field giving direct reports to the NEF intelligence team, or “cell.” They would also include field teams briefing the NEF commanders after a mission, or field specialists collecting information using sophisticated surveillance equipment.

“The intel guys don’t do as much outright collection as they do assessment — what it means,” said Jensen. “And then they have a product they can give the commander so he can make decisions based on that, and then potentially send out EOD or other forces as required.”

During RIMPAC, the field teams serving within NEF operated in simulated field conditions in order to add an element of increased reality to the scenario. Dozens of air conditioned tents were set up in compounds, known as tent cities, scattered across Ford Island and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. It was from these tent cities that expeditionary forces reacted to the information the seasoned Reserve IS’s analyzed.

“This is old-hat for me,” said Vancleave. As a civilian, this is what I do. I came from a tent in Afghanistan, and was a little hard-pressed to know I’d be in a tent in Hawaii; but this is how it is in theater, this is realistic.

Just before attending his first RIMPAC this year, Vancleave spent six months in Afghanistan as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilot with a military contractor. He also deployed in 2003, just after joining the Reserves, for more than a year with SEAL Team 5 as a targeting analyst focused on human intelligence. Between his job flying UAVs and gathering intelligence with the Navy, Vancleave has spent more than four years boots-on-ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, experience that helped him separate kernels of valuable information from chaff.

Vancleave and the other IS’s on watch stayed keenly focused on intelligence injects related to smuggling routes, weapons smuggling, narcotics, improvised explosive device detonations and discoveries, and other land-based reports.

“I tracked those instances, and then they got reported on our built-slides for the update brief, or for the PWC to focus in on imagery collection so that we could take that information and get something further,” said Vancleave. “It’s not as much about the capabilities right now as it is about the process.”

“A lot of them have done multiple deployments, and they’ve worked as [intelligence] specialists and intel analysts during those deployments; that’s an incredible value-added skill set to bring to the team that they didn’t have without our folks,” said Jensen. “It’s more, it’s better; it’s not an issue that they couldn’t do it without us, it’s that they can do it a lot better with us.”

The Intelligence Reservists made the exercise more dynamic for EODGRU 1’s Intelligence Exploitation Team (IET) by adding realism to their field operations. Chief Intelligence Specialist Eloy Rodriguez, EODGRU 1 Reserve element leading chief petty officer and watch supervisor, along with the other Reserve IS’s on his team, served as role players impersonating foreign nationals whom active duty IS’s on the IET, known as hum’inters because of their human-intelligence gathering specialization, interviewed. This interview activity simulated the way hum’inters would gather human-intelligence information in the field, a process involving interaction between human intelligence collectors and people living in the local population.

The information the hum’inters gathered from Rodriguez and the other Reserve IS’s wouldn’t have changed the course of the structured exercise, but if the hum’inters hadn’t asked the right questions in the right way, Rodriguez said it could have made reaching their goal more difficult.

“This side-play helps drive how the intel analysts from EOD build their target development so that they can defeat the IED networks,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez trained early on as an aerospace engineer, and has since become a paralegal at a law firm in San Diego. He joined the Navy as an IS in 1987 and gained experience along the way working with UAV aircraft as part of the Naval Special Warfare Command beginning in 2001. In 2007, he started working with EOD, and has maintained that connection ever since. RIMPAC 2012 marks his fourth, and his experience with the biennial exercise ranges over 20 years.

“My first one was in the ‘90s,” said Rodriguez. “My last three have been with EOD, and I’ve seen it grow to this point where there’s an incredible level of detail.” He said this year’s incorporation of human intelligence collection had direct impact on EOD’s actions.

“It’s like getting the ground truth from the locals to determine if there is infiltration of bad guys in the area of interest,” said Rodriguez. “They ask just general questions to find out if this individual that have moved into this area are actually from there, and if they’re coming from somewhere else, what their intent is: is their intent to be a part of the community and contribute, or is it something else?”

As the tactical phase of RIMPAC progressed, Rodriguez began rotating his team through the watch floor and out into the field with EOD technicians to exercise their full range of skills.

“What that does is, it builds a trust with the EOD techs; they’re like, wow, this guy can shoot,” said Rodriguez. “So, the credibility of that IS has now just grown exponentially, and that EOD tech can now come to us with confidence in our abilities.”

The Reserve intelligence team continues to support NEF and EODGRU 1 through the end of the 36-day RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime exercise that involves twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, over 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel. Members of EODGRU 1’s Reserve element also supplement real-world operations, in addition to exercises, including the unit’s eight-month mission as Joint Task Force (JTF) Troy in Baghdad in 2011 where they were responsible for exercising command and control of operational explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) forces throughout Iraq.

VX-1 Flies P-8 Poseidon during RIMPAC 2012

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – The P-8A Poseidon jet, a replacement maritime patrol aircraft for the P-3C Orion, made its Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise debut this year, flown by two air crews from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, during the 23rd edition of the biennial exercise .

“While the P-3C Orion is a very forgiving aircraft and has served the fleet very well, the P-8A Poseidon is easier to fly, trims well, and handles flawlessly [at low altitude],” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Artis, VX-1 maintenance officer and integrated training team pilot. “It’s easy to maneuver, and the situational awareness in the cockpit is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Getting used to the technology and the different displays can be a challenge, but overall it’s fun to fly.”

The VX-1 crews flew two P-8As during 24 exercise events ranging from routine test flights to simulated anti-submarine warfare. VX-1 officials said training requirements are extensive in the P-8A because of the complexity and the speed of the aircraft, and that RIMPAC provided extensive, open airspace and a robust exercise schedule where the squadron could demonstrate the capability of the new aircraft.

“The addition of two P-8A aircraft from Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 enabled us to get an early look at how we can integrate this new platform in a Joint and Combined operating environment,” said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, who flew a mission with VX-1 earlier in the week. “I had the opportunity to personally observe its great potential during a flight where the crew demonstrated each weapon system while we conducted ASW and ISR.”

The P-8A is based on the Boeing 737-800ERX airliner, but incorporates a host of modifications. The Poseidon will replace the P-3C Orion, now in its 50th year of service, as a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. It will maximize the experience and technology of the Orion but with significant growth potential, greater payload capacity, advanced mission systems, software and communications. Six additional fuel tanks in P-8As allow for the jet’s extended range.

“The P-3C is an aging airframe with aging systems on board.” said Cmdr. Gregory Sleppy, VX-1 operational test director for the P-8. “It’s becoming very expensive to operate because of the age of the airframe, and has been up for 50 years; that’s half the life of [naval] aviation.”

P-8As feature Raytheon multi-mission surface search radars, and incorporate a short bomb bay aft of the wings for torpedoes, sonobouys (small expendable sonar capsules that are dropped or ejected from the aircraft for anti-submarine warfare or underwater acoustic research), and cargo.

“We can look forward to an increased availability rate right off the bat,” said Sleppy. “Next you’re going to see a more interoperable platform. The communications suite on the aircraft is far more advanced. Those are going to be the immediate things that the fleet commanders are going to see.”

Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, over 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in the RIMPAC exercise from June 29 to Aug. 3 in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.

U.S. and Australian Ships Conduct Anti-Piracy Exercise During RIMPAC 2012

By: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raul Moreno Jr.

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 25, 2012) – U.S. and Australian ships demonstrated visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) procedures to strengthen the crews’ abilities to conduct maritime security operations, July 25, as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012.

The exercise between the guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65) and the Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Perth (FFH 157), part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 176, was a joint VBSS demonstration that allowed Sailors from both ships to share techniques and experience regarding the boarding of vessels.

VBSS teams are responsible for boarding vessels suspected of conducting piracy operations that may include illegal activity like trafficking of humans or smuggling illicit drugs.

“The U.S. exercises international law to intercept, query and board a vessel to verify what they say they have on board, is actually what they have on board,” said Ensign Steven McClendon, Chosin’s force protection officer.

Perth played the role of a fictional ship suspected of illegal activity while Chosin took the role of deploying a VBSS team to verify that the ship was not involved in illegal activity.

Chosin began by querying the suspect ship, which was initially uncooperative.

“We then exercised simulating warning shots,” said McClendon, “they became compliant and let us board.”

The VBSS team aboard Chosin geared up with simulated weapons and prepared to conduct a boarding at sea.

“We disembarked with the RHIB (rigid-hull inflatable boat) and traveled to the other ship,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman Leland Foltz, assigned to Chosin’s supply department.

“My normal role is to be a ‘breacher,'” said Foltz, “so I normally have a kit on my back and I carry the shotgun. Whenever we run into a locked door on a non-compliant ship, I break the lock and we break in the door.”

Once aboard Perth, the Australian and U.S. teams participating in the VBSS exercise conducted a safety brief. Chosin’s VBSS team of 12 split into three groups, each joined by safety trainers aboard Perth.

“So from there we went to verify their cargo, which was supposed to be carrots,” said Foltz, “We found automatic weapons, drugs, and a lot of simulated resistance from the crew–we didn’t find any carrots.”

After successfully conducting the exercise aboard Perth, U.S. and Australian sailors had a chance to connect and talk to each other.

“We got to talk to them before we got back into our RHIB. They were professional and really friendly,” said McClendon.

Chosin’s VBSS team practices boarding procedures inport, but has never had the opportunity to board a vessel while at sea.

“That was the first time our team has actually been able to do something like that,” said McClendon, “It was a real good experience to get into the RHIB and climb up another ship.”

“This was something new. It was fun and intense,” said Fultz.

CTF 176 is an expeditionary strike group (ESG) and consists of participants from Australia, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Tonga, New Zealand, and the U.S. throughout RIMPAC 2012, the task force will participate in a wide range of amphibious exercises, non-combatant evacuation operation exercises, helicopter and mechanized raids, and Marine live-fire support exercises.

RIMPAC 2012 is the world’s largest international maritime exercise, and is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.

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Subs Participate in ASW Exercise During RIMPAC 2012

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tiffany Sivels

PEARL HARBOR – Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise provided the United States and allied nations the opportunity to enhance their collective skills through anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercises June 29 through August 3.

ASW is a core war-fighting skill used to counter any potential adversary submarine threat, and is a component of a large-scale maritime operation such as RIMPAC.

“Being able to conduct multi-national ASW operations on this scale has direct benefits to any coalition operation that we might conduct in the future ,” said Rear Adm. Frank Caldwell, Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, who also serves as Commander, ASW Forces for U.S. Third Fleet. “We continue to see a steady increase in global submarine investment, with more capable submarine classes built each year in higher numbers and being acquired by an expanding number of nations.”

In this year’s exercise, nine nations have anti-submarine warfare training objectives ranging from unit level training to coordinated and theater level operations.

“ASW training for RIMPAC 2012 has been focused towards a graduated approach, beginning with briefings and instruction ashore during the harbor phase of the exercise,” said Caldwell. “This training then continues all the way through a fully integrated at-sea scenario in which commanders, their staffs, ships, aircraft and submarines all work together. ASW is a team sport that pulls together capabilities across air, surface and subsurface naval components.”

The Republic of Korea, Australia and Canada have all brought diesel-electric submarines to participate. The U.S. currently does not have diesel-electric submarines in its inventory to practice anti-submarine warfare, which makes RIMPAC a valuable avenue for real world training.

“We are extremely fortunate to have such a wide range of diesel and nuclear submarine participants,” said Caldwell. “The ability to practice anti-submarine warfare with and on the submarines was an excellent opportunity for the U.S. and allied nations. It provided us a chance to jointly work together to hone our collective capability and enhance our interoperability. This fits precisely into the theme of RIMPAC 2012 – Capable and Adaptive Partners”

Cmdr. Glen Miles, commanding officer of the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins-class submarine HMAS Farncomb added, “The U.S. has always welcomed Australian submarines to Pearl Harbor. Our host submarine, USS North Carolina, has been outstanding. Their hospitality has been overwhelming. The level of support and professionalism of the U.S. submariners is legendary, and everything we’ve seen confirms that.”

During RIMPAC 2012, command and control of ASW forces were distributed among partner nations to a greater extent than ever before.

“For example,” said Caldwell. “This is the first time that a Chilean officer will direct employment of sea combat forces, to include anti-submarine warfare assets, in support of the USS Nimitz carrier strike group.”

This year’s RIMPAC exercise includes units or personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

First RIMPAC Mass Casualty Drill Combines Hawaii Medical Team, U.S. Forces

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Abby Wilkinson, RIMPAC Public Affairs 

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – Hawaii area medical personnel, supported by Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) volunteers and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4 aircraft, completed a mass casualty exercise, July 20, during exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012. 

This was the first time Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) was incorporated in the biennial RIMPAC exercise. The mass causality exercise facilitated training and certification for Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team (Hawaii DMAT), and prepared medical facilities and health care workers to respond to local and foreign disasters. 

“Cultural interoperability,” said Toby Clairmont, Emergency Services for the Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH) director and Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team commander, in reference to the communication dynamics that exist within emergency response organizations like Department of Defense (DoD) and HAH.  “DoD elements often don’t know what non-federal teams do, and we don’t always understand what DoD teams do.  A lot of civilians, federal employees or not, may not understand military jargon, processes, priorities; so what we’re doing here is learning how to work together so that if we go down-range one day to do a shared mission, there are less rough edges.” 

In preparation for the exercise, 30 TAMC members used their new Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter (DRASH) to apply moulage, a combination of makeup, latex and rubber that simulates cuts, broken bones and burns, to 110 role-players from area hospitals. 

“They’re setting up a simulation for us, so they’re creating moulage, and we don’t know what those simulated casualties are; it’s a complete surprise to us after they step out of the tent,” said Clairmont.  “They give them to us like they’re coming out of the field, so we have to triage them, we have to provide stabilizing care, and then we need to move them on to hospital facilities.”

“It helped anybody else that was treating patients see what they were treating and what kind of wounds they had,” said Staff Sgt. April Sweeney, a Tripler Army Medical Center member who supervised operations at the DRASH. “It’s easier to treat a wound you can see than it is to treat an imaginary wound that’s on a card.” 

With moulage in place, the role-players then stumbled into the nearby military HA/DR command post where Sailors from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command (MCAST) acted as first responders, applying first aid and then transporting the role players to nearby Acute Care Modules (ACM) for assessment and treatment. 

Each ACM consisted of semi-rigid tents complete with floors, doors, electricity, sanitary systems and air conditioning. The ACMs were staffed by about 35 members of the Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team (Hawaii DMAT) and augmented with Hospital Emergency Response Teams (HERTs) who treated the simulated casualties. 

“This is a good exercise to have the simulation of injuries so we get our skills up and know what equipment we need,” said Christine Johnston, a pediatric neonatal nurse from Kapi’olani Medical Center working in the delayed treatment ACM.  “We have everything set up, but if no injuries come, we don’t know if we have everything set up right, so this was a good way of going through all of that.  Other states have DMATs, but they don’t have the opportunity to participate in RIMPAC, which is a fabulous opportunity,” said Johnston. 

After treatment, casualties were transported to one of the 23 participating hospitals on Oahu and Maui by bus, ambulance, or one of two MH-60S helicopters from HSC-4.

“It was an unprecedented opportunity which offered live practice for hospitals statewide,” said Clairmont.

Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, over 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in the biennial RIMPAC exercise from June 29 to Aug. 3 in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.

For more information about RIMPAC, please click on

Experimental mobile app assists in disaster decision making


By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ernesto Bonilla, RIMPAC Public Affairs 

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) tested two new mobile applications during the week-long humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) portion of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise, where military forces and government organizations from Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand participated with local disaster responders in a simulated catastrophic disaster.   

The Hermes and Glimpse initiatives are cellular based, geo-tracked, applications that allow operators to create and transmit near instantaneous information to a command cell. Developed by the NGA, Hermes operates on Android devices and lets users create real-time incident reports from the field. 

“With Hermes, operators are sent out with either a (smart) phone or a tablet.  These devices operate on the local cellular network and when running the Glimpse application, it allows for geo-tracking,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Trina Patterson of the NGA.  “The operator can then submit a situation report consisting of images, (prerecorded) video, and the type of emergency.  These reports will assist in determining the appropriate response.” 

Glimpse is the visual portion of the software package that provides decision makers real time views of an event.  First responders can send live streaming video while being geo-tracked from the mobile device.  The streaming video is uploaded to a server where it can be accessed via a secure URL address.  With live visuals, assets can be deployed with little delay. 

“These applications provide better situational awareness for commanders and decision makers so that they understand the relevance of what’s going on in real time,” said Patterson.  “Based on the footage and information received, any special preparations can be accommodated prior to the deploying of rescue units or if a victim needed surgery the surgical team could be better prepared before arrival.” 

According to Patterson, Hermes-Glimpse offers potential solutions to communication obstacles encountered during Operation Tomadachi, the relief effort in Japan following the 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami.  

“This is something we’ve been working on specifically to respond to a HA/DR scenario.  We were trying to close a capability gap in communications during a disaster relief effort.  This (simulated disaster) provided the perfect opportunity for us to test our solution to that problem,” said Patterson. 

Until RIMPAC, the system had only been tested in a lab environment, but had yet to be tested in a HA/DR scenario. 

International observers not actively participating in the scenario commented on the importance of the exercise and the value of tools such as Hermes/Glimpse, and what it could bring to an HA/DR scenario. 

“By observing this exercise, it lets me know what capabilities the U.S. has and how they handle situations, and in turn what I could offer,” said Claudia Gonzalez, fleet surgeon of the Chilean Navy. 

After seeing the Hermes-Glimpse in action Gonzalez said, “It’s an outstanding and innovative tool and it would truly advance medicine and help save lives.” 

With this new communication tool, information can be distributed to responding agencies and international militaries almost instantaneously.

“The information sharing technology and the ability to rapidly disseminate it, is critical to the success of this operation,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Napolitano, HA/DR exercise commander and Expeditionary Training Group commanding officer. “The whole idea behind disaster response is to get there as quick as you can and stem the bleeding.”

Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from June 29 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.

 For more information about RIMPAC, please visit

Senior US SH-2 helicopter pilot flies Royal New Zealand Navy Seasprite at RIMPAC 2012

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Dille, RIMPAC Public Affairs

The most senior remaining SH-2 helicopter aviator in the U.S. Navy took the controls of a Royal New Zealand Navy SH-2G Seasprite July 13 after more than a decade-long separation from the aircraft type.

Rear Adm. Patrick E. McGrath, U.S. Third Fleet deputy commander and Combined Forces Maritime Component deputy commander for exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012, has spent more than 2,200 hours piloting SH-2 helicopters, or about three months of his life, but hasn’t flown the one since 1998 when he was commanding officer of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 84.

“[The flight] shows us and the New Zealand Navy cooperating well, and the fraternity of helicopter pilots,” said McGrath.  The coalition military environment of RIMPAC allowed McGrath to develop close relationships with New Zealand Anzac-class frigate HMNZS Te Kaha (F77) leadership during a shipboard visit days prior to the flight. Those ties eventually lead to the opportunity for McGrath to pilot the Seasprite, and the Royal New Zealand Navy flight crew aboard the helicopter to show off their modernized aircraft to a veteran pilot.

“What we saw [during the flight] was a unique opportunity to showcase some of our capabilities during the exercise to the admiral,” said New Zealand Army Major John Gordon, a New Zealand Defense Force spokesperson, “and it’s another indication that our militaries have shared interests.  Over the past few years, there has been an increasing relationship between our militaries and the admiral flying the Seasprite was a clear demonstration of that.”

SH-2 helicopters were widely used by the U.S. Navy between 1993 and 2001.  The Royal New Zealand Navy began using the SH-2G version in 2001, employing it in an anti-submarine warfare role.

The Seasprite is highly maneuverable due to additional control surfaces on the rotors and two powerful General Electric T700 turbines.  McGrath likened flying it to sliding behind the wheel of a favorite sports car.

“It’s like the Alfa Romero of helicopters,” said McGrath. “If that’s the last flight I ever do with the Navy, that’s not a bad way to go.”

The world’s largest international maritime exercise, the biennial exercise RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.

“We’re not simply throwing people from 22 countries with no knowledge of each other together; it’s more like a grand convention of naval experts sharing experience,” said McGrath. “There’s a real practical aspect to this [exercise] because it adds tremendous value to all of us when we face a tsunami, or some other natural disaster or military threat.”

RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.

Details of RIMPAC activities and imagery are available at

Sea Spirit

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Phillip Pavlovich/RIMPAC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM – Eight nations gathered around, and on top of, a 40-foot by 50-foot map July 11-17 as part of a joint operational planning training opportunity during Sea Spirit 2012, at the Ford Island Conference Center on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise.

Canadian Forces College senior instructors from the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force, and Royal Canadian Navy led more than 30 officers and senior enlisted members from Australia, Chile, Canada, Colombia, Japan, Peru, Thailand, and U.S. forces during the exercise by demonstrating how the Canadian Forces Operational Planning Process is designed at the operational level of warfare.

“Utilizing RIMPAC partner nation experts in their cognizant fields provided for a more dynamic and thoroughly developed plan in accomplishing Sea Spirit’s designed objectives,” said Lt. Cmdr. D. Matt Attaway, Commander, U.S. Third Fleet chief of plans and associate director of Sea Spirit.

Taking advantage of the training opportunities RIMPAC 2012 provides, representatives from participating nations formed a Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF) operational planning team and focused on a multi-national force crisis response.  Sea Spirit allowed the CJTF to broaden and share understanding of operational level planning using a fictional maritime scenario in the Central Pacific ocean. 

“It’s a good opportunity to gain knowledge of the planning process and to cooperate with different militaries,” said Lt. Cmdr. Walter Matthews of the Chilean Marines. “The language barrier can be challenging, but when you have a strong will to get everything done, it becomes easier.”

The map was modeled after the Spanish, British and French empires. Fictional nations and islands were printed on the map in place of existing countries. Participants actively walked on the map and moved wooden blocks representing ships, submarines and aircraft around to conceptualize military actions in the event of a real a life crisis.

“The map allows you to become really involved in the geography and landscape of the region,” saidAustralian Fleet Battle Staff, Lt. Rebecca Wilson. “You can walk around and move military assets and analyze different courses of action.”

Sea Spirit was originally used by, U.S. Third Fleet commander as an operational level of war education and training vehicle for RIMPAC 2010 utilizing the Australian Joint Military Appreciation Process.

After positive feedback from the CJTF in 2010, Sea Spirit was rewritten for RIMPAC 2012 using the Canadian Forces Operational Planning Process (CFOPP).

“It builds on the “Capable, Adaptive Partners” theme of RIMPAC 2012 as an additional venue to engage our fellow nations in coordinating and developing an operational level of warfare (OLW) plan under a single nation planning process,” said Attaway.

The CJTF concluded Sea Spirit by discussing lessons learned within crisis planning scenario.

 “In the end, we all walked away with an enhanced level of knowledge of the CFOPP, while working together as a coalition team,” said Attaway.

“As a principle warfare officer, the skills I’ve learned here are very relevant to my future job,” said Wilson. “It has really assisted me in understanding other Navies and operating together.”

Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from June 29 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.

Seabees Join Hawaii National Guard During RIMPAC Search-and-Rescue Exercise

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Dille, RIMPAC Public Affairs

BELLOWS AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii – A small detachment of Seabees joined a specialized team of Hawaii National Guard Soldiers and civilian urban search-and-rescue (USAR) experts here for an integrated exercise July 17-19, demonstrating a practical application of lifesaving and construction skills during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise underway in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

The exercise involved the first operational test of the new cloud-based Glimpse initiative, a National Geospatial Intelligence Agency program that provides operation commanders live video streams transmitted by geo-tracked Android-based devices from the field.

Nine members of Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 303 integrated with Hawaii Army National Guard Chemical, Biological Radiological and Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package Task Force (HING CERFP) Soldiers from Alpha Company, 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion to form two teams during the search and rescue exercise.  The Seabees, who do not typically receive the kind of specialized medical and rescue training the HING CERFP Soldiers do, contributed their heavy equipment and manpower to a simulation involving people scattered throughout, and buried within, a rubble pile here.

“The Seabees are using their skill set, being able to work construction and equipment, and working side-by-side with the National Guard, who have received the training actually going into confined spaces, using different types of shoring, the use of ropes and pulleys and blocking; a lot of that is new stuff that we don’t deal with,” said Equipment Operator 1st Class Dan Lasich, Seabee mission commander during the search and rescue training exercise.  “So, we got to take our normal skill sets, and our knowledge of tools and equipment, and apply it to a search-and-rescue type scenario.”

Members of a National Geospatial Intelligence Agency team were testing the hand-held, tablet-based Glimpse initiative for the first time in an operational military setting during this exercise.  Glimpse operators provided a near real-time view of the disaster scene to the humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) command center at Ford Island Navy Base on the other side of Oahu by transmitting live video over the local cellular network.

 “We were trying to close a capability gap of communications during a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief event, and this venue provided the perfect opportunity for us to test our solution to that problem,” said Lt. Col. Trina Patterson, Associate Deputy for Experiments and Demonstrations with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s Military Support Readiness division.  “It provides better situational awareness for commanders and decision makers so that they understand the relevance of what’s happening on the ground.”

Glimpse operators accompanied the advanced echelon (ADVON) team who first to assessed the affected area and provided information to CRAFP commanders who made decisions about what resources to use in their HA/DR response.  ADVON teams can be comprised of Seabee engineers, corpsman, civil affairs personnel and Combat Camera photographers, and are usually sent to a disaster area first to communicate with commanders.  However, this ADVON team used the Glimpse initiative to feed live video in addition to more traditional radio communication.

“Communication and imagery is our thing because we need to send information back to the main body to show them, to paint the picture for them, and recommend things from a perspective on the ground of what needs to happen,” said Lt. John Daly, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Hawaii staff engineer augmentee, and leader of the ADVON team at the search-and-rescue exercise.

The exercise was part of the larger, week-long HA/DR training event which started July 16.  It is the first of its kind within the biennial RIMPAC exercises to include partnership with civilian hospitals and medical centers, and training and certification for expeditionary forces to respond to foreign disasters as a Crisis Response Adaptive Force Package (CRAFP).

“It gives people a chance to learn more about each other’s capabilities and interoperability, and to be able to put those learned practices into play for real world response to disaster situations,” said Lt. Cmdr Patricia Serrano, RIMPAC HA/DR coordinator and deputy fleet surgeon for U.S. 3rd Fleet.

“The idea behind this was: let’s practice this before the next disaster and hopefully what we learn and communicate to each other will help us be more efficient and effective in the future,” said Capt. Michael Napolitano, HA/DR exercise commander and Expeditionary Training Group commanding officer.

Marines have conducted non-combatant evacuation training exercises in the past, even as recently as this year in California, but those pre-deployment exercises involved single Marine units, whereas the RIMPAC HA/DR exercise involved coalition partner militaries from four countries, 23 Hawaiian medical facilities and more than 2,000 participants.

RIMPAC HA/DR exercise coordinators created a fictional island nation, represented by Hawaii, which suffered a catastrophe caused by a tsunami.  They included coalition partner nations in the scenario so exercise participants would gain experience working in a more realistic, global environment.

A partially-collapsed two-story concrete building dominated the exercise site, with twisted metal protruding from the broken slabs.  Seabees had used a front-end loader the day prior to bury several mannequins under concrete pieces weighing hundreds of pounds.  A live role-player laid on the exposed second-story floor, while others laid within the collapsed structure, adding an even greater degree of realism to the scenario.

USAR designer and lead trainer, Vince Moffitt, said he structured the fictional scenario so that the Seabees and CERFP Soldiers were responding to a request for assistance from local fire and police agencies after they had evaluated the site.  In reality, the military members were applying real search and rescue skills to recover live volunteers and mannequins placed throughout the site.

“If these guys came in to support an operation, the local resources would have already been overwhelmed,” said Moffitt, “And with an incident command already set up, they would integrate with the organizational structure in place, and that’s what we’re simulating here.”

The scenario allowed the Seabees and HING CERFP to conduct their mission within the exercise scenario while gaining real experience as a combined team.

“For Hawaii, because of their geography, if they have a true disaster such as a [cyclone] or a tsunami, and they need a response, the military is a perfect agency to be able to come and support them in that,” said Serrano, “And building the communication bridges in advance, and the network, and getting to understand which agencies are going to be operating together — it helps us prepare and advance our response.”

Because of Hawaii’s increased potential for natural disaster, HING maintains CERFP as a primary resource for emergency response.

“We are the state urban search and rescue team, there is no civilian one,” said Capt. Aaron Blanchard, HING CERFP operations officer and officer in charge of the rescue mission here.  “There is city and county fire department, of course, and local authorities, but at the state level, we’re it.”

HING CERFP members have all received advanced search and rescue training in addition to casualty decontamination, emergency medical and security training.  The integrated training environment allowed the Seabees hands-on experience with rescue techniques that involved things like using block-and-pulley systems to extract a victim through a second-story window, and using custom-sized wood shoring to brace a collapsing doorway.

“This is a lot of new stuff for us that they’ve done and been through and so just breaking through a rock or working around some of these obstacles; it’s wild just to see how they get a body out without further injuring it,” said Equipment Operator 2nd Class Brian Krause, a member of CBMU 303 who experienced search and rescue for the first time.

The integrated teams were made up of at least three HING CERFP members and one Seabee, with the experienced Soldiers guiding the Sailors through the extraction steps.

“We practice these skills all the time so that in a real-world situation we won’t get frozen up, and so we’ll know what to do right on the spot,” said Spc. Daysen Chang, a four-year veteran of the HING CERFP team.  “Once we showed them how to do it, they caught on real quick and we clicked and got the victims rescued with no problems.”

The Seabees contributed their construction experience to the rescue effort by coaching the Soldiers on building techniques and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) construction standards, and assisting with heavy lifting.

“The equipment and tool usage is all stuff we’re familiar with, so our ability to come in and adapt to this situation and integrate with whatever the respective unit may be is very beneficial for us and them, and to whomever it is we’re supporting,” said Lasich.  “We deal with a lot of the humanitarian relief and assistance efforts, natural disasters and just tragic events, whether it’s tsunamis, hurricanes, fires; Seabees have always been in the area and we’ve got all the equipment, and the vertical and horizontal skill sets that we can really adapt any environment.  Working side-by-side and integrating our guys is going to make us better for the future, and hopefully increase our ability to overcome any disasters, natural or man-made.”

Seabees from CBMU 303 continue to participate in RIMPAC 2012 by providing combat-ready engineer forces that conduct contingency engineering and a wide range of construction planning and operational support to expeditionary ground forces.

The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.

Divers Participate in Recompression Chamber Exercise During RIMPAC 2012

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tiffany Sivels

PEARL HARBOR – Divers assigned to Mobile Underwater Diving Salvage Unit (MUDSU) 1 and divers from coalition partners conducted a recompression chamber exercise during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 July 18.

The exercise was conducted as part of the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) scenario within RIMPAC. The scenario consisted of a diver becoming unconscious due to an arterial gas embolism while conducting a search and rescue mission.

“An arterial gas embolism is usually the result of an injury to the lungs that causes bubbles to leak into the bloodstream,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dennis Kypros, MUDSU 1 Training Officer. “A bubble that leaks into the bloodstream acts like a blood clot and can cause a stroke for a diver.”

During the exercise, members of MUDSU 1 pulled a simulated unconscious diver out of the water, and by using small boats, the team transported the diver to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force minesweeper tender JS Bungo (MST-464).

“It is very beneficial for our Navy to continue participating in RIMPAC scenarios such as these,” said Cmdr. Hiroki Yokozawa, Bungo commanding officer. “Our presence here now and in the past, has helped us immensely in our efforts to aid Japan during the earthquake last year.”

Once on board Bungo, the team simulated treating the diver by using a recompression chamber, an emergency hyperbaric chamber that operates as a total-life support system that can treat a diver suffering from an arterial gas embolism.

Able Seaman Matthew Johnston, a Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diver played the role of the unconscious diver that was treated by the recompression chamber.

“Even though the recompression chamber portion of the exercise was simulated,” said Johnston, “It was great to see what Japan’s capabilities are. The chamber on the Bungo was of a larger scale, but it still provided the same functions as what I’m used to.” 

Kypros added that, “Due to the relationships that we’ve built and the training that we’ve conducted during RIMPAC with Japan and other allied nations, when we are forward deployed, this will allow us to be familiar with their chamber and use it in the case of emergencies.” 

Six Australian divers and six U.S. Coast Guard divers are assigned to MUDSU 1, Company 16 for the RIMPAC exercise.  

This year’s RIMPAC exercise includes units or personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.