Sailing for the sea phase of RIMPAC 18 aboard HMAS Success there was meeting of minds when Navy’s senior leadership team met with Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead.
According to RADM Mead, this is one of Navy’s single largest commitments to RIMPAC, and apart from the host United States Navy, the RAN is the longest contributor of forces to the exercise.
“RIMPAC continues to be Navy’s most important military engagement and its significance can’t be underestimated. We train, practice and learn from our allies and friends in circumstances which simply don’t occur in any other exercise,” said RADM Mead.
In Hawaii and southern California, Navy’s contribution to RIMPAC – led by Navy’s Commodore Warfare Commodore Ivan Ingham – includes HMA Ships Adelaide, Success, Toowoomba, Melbourne, submarine HMAS Rankin and Clearance Diving Teams One and Four.
At its core, RADM Mead said that RIMPAC is about relationship building.
“Nothing builds genuine trust more quickly than large scale military exercises involving tens of thousands of service men and women, working simultaneously in scores of ships and planes in complex, challenging and potentially dangerous circumstances,” RADM Mead said.
Commodore Ingham, who also assumes responsibilities for RIMPAC Task Force 176, said that synchronising expectations and requirements among the Australian contingent was an important part of ensuring the activity runs smoothly.
“Although planning for RIMPAC has been underway for more than 18 months, there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting among senior commanders to make sure all the working parts of our 1600 person contribution will operate together as planned,” said CDRE Ingham.
Speaking to ship’s company, RADM Mead said the role of HMAS Success is particularly symbolic, as no ship has participated in more RIMPAC exercises.
“Not only does HMAS Success have the distinction of being the longest commissioned ship in the RAN, but I also believe she has the honour of being the most experienced unit in the exercise, with ten RIMPACs already under her belt,” said RADM Mead.
Commanding Officer HMAS Success, CMDR Grant Zilko said that that his crew had been looking forward to RIMPAC and the chance to work alongside many of world’s finest navies and their ships.
“RIMPAC sets the tone for how the participating 25 nations engage in the Pacific for the next two years, so Australia needs to ensure we are at the forefront of shaping the peace and security in the region during that period,” CMDR Zilko said.
This year is the 26th RIMPAC since the inaugural exercise in 1971, with Australia as one of the five founding members.