Since June 26, four Military Sealift Command combat logistic fleet ships have been on station, by providing logistical support to the 25 nations, 45 surface ships participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018, the world’s largest, biennial international maritime exercise in Hawaii.
USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187), USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7) and USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10) have been delivering the fuel to power the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, and foreign navies surface and aviation forces, as well as the groceries that sustained the ships’ crews during the exercise’s underway periods.
MSC is known for its logistics support to ships at sea, but what makes RIMPAC significant is the sheer volume of the support provided. According to the Military Sealift Command Pacific Logistics and Operations departments, over the course of the exercise, MSC delivered over 8 million gallons of diesel ship fuel, 4 million gallons of JP5 aviation fuel and 1,130 pallets of food and supplies during 101 resupply evolutions at sea.
“By providing underway replenishment at-sea we enable the combatant ship to stay on station at sea longer without having to pull into port for re-supply,” explained Capt. Stephen Scott, one of two civil service masters who commanded Brashear during RIMPAC. “During our first evolution we provided replenishment services to seven different ships at once. Five of the ships were U.S. Navy ships and two of the ships were international partners. The partner ships leap frogged into the formation, came along side USNS Carl Brasher, thus demonstrating their ability to maintain the position required to perform underway replenishments at sea.”
One of the unique aspects of RIMPAC is the number of countries participating, and the interaction between them and the U.S. Navy. MSC ships provided logistics services to foreign navy ships 61 times during the exercise. Looking forward, Capt. Mike Grogan, Brashear’s second master participating in RIMAPC, can see the benefits of lessons learned in this training environment and how they will impact his future missions.
“RIMPAC provides CLF assets like Carl Brashear the experience in interoperability with foreign navies. There are few opportunities for us to work with the Indians, French, Japanese, etc, in Commander 3rd Fleets area of operation. Operations with the foreign navies, like the ones at RIMPAC, allow us to better understand how they operate, and how they will operate with us when we are in and an area like that of Commander 5th Fleet or other multi-national exercises.”
The MSC logistics piece of RIMPAC isn’t limited to the ships at sea. On the ground, the MSCPAC Combat Logistic Office (CLO) coordinated the acquisition and movement of all the cargo needs for the entire exercise.
Working in concert with 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. Six MSC ships, as well as MSC reservists from Military Sealift Command Pacific’s Headquarters Unit, MSCPAC’s Hawaii Detachment, and Expeditionary Port Unit 114, are supporting RIMPAC 2016.
“RIMPAC has continued to grow – more participants, more ships, more evolutions – all requiring logistics support in order to remain at sea and maximize opportunities to train and operate together,” said Capt. Brett Hershman, commander, Military Sealift Command Pacific and CTF 173. “Increased exercise tempo means a greater customer demand signal on MSC. Our CTF 173 operations are more complex this year than ever, with over one hundred RAS events providing fuel, food, repair parts and ammunition to everyone out there.”
Twenty-five nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial RIMPAC exercise scheduled June 27 to Aug. 2.
This year’s exercise includes forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.
As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s interconnected oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971.