RIMPAC 2018 Hosts Submarine Rescue Symposium

Approximately 30 submarine officers and civilian contractors from 13 nations attended a Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 submarine rescue symposium hosted at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, July 9.

The symposium offered those in attendance an opportunity to strategize how different nations can work together in the event of a submarine accident or casualty.

“The great thing about RIMPAC is we get more participation from around the world, specifically Asian countries that were not able to join our working groups throughout the year,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Joshua Powers. “This increased and diversified participation allows us to engage with our partners who operate submarines and are interested in submarine rescue.”

Powers said recent submarine accidents like the Argentinian ARA San Juan disaster in November 2017, which was lost with all hands on board, have placed a heightened emphasis on nations working together to aid in search and rescue of submarine accidents.

“First of all, it’s about people. We are trying to save people and you can’t put a price on that,” said Royal Norwegian Navy Cmdr. Dag Hanssen. “It is easy to share what you are doing, what your plans are, what your equipment is because all of it is unclassified. All of this is about saving lives.”

During the symposium, a special emphasis was placed on identifying foreseeable logistical hurdles that would delay timely mobilization of rescue plans in the event of a downed submarine.

Hanssen said because submariners are a highly specialized career field in a war effor,t having the ability to save downed submarines is enormously valuable and something that military leaders value.

The symposium also included an extensive walkthrough of the U.S. submarine search and rescue procedures, allowing attendees the opportunity to discuss and get clarification on procedures performed differently within their own submarine communities.

“I am here because Colombia recognizes the importance of submarine rescue capabilities,” said Colombian Navy Frigate Captain Ernesto Araujo. “All the information, procedures and contacts I gather here I can bring back with me.”

Araujo said the most important thing he took from the symposium was being connected to the multinational community of submarine rescue experts he can call if Columbia was in need.

Twenty-five nations, 46 ships, five submarines, about 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 27 to Aug. 2 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security of the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971.