WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 52 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
The world’s largest international maritime warfare xercise is back, and this year it is bigger than ever. Held every two years in June and July out
of Honolulu, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) represents
one of the best opportunities for navies from around the
world to collaborate in a real-world environment.
Evan Smith, the Navy’s RIMPAC exercise coordinator, is hammering out the final details as the exercise
quickly approaches. This year will see 27 countries
participate, up from 22 in 2014.
Planning an exercise this large is no small task,
which is why work began in earnest on the 2016
RIMPAC back in November 2014, just a few months
after the last one ended, Smith said. A number of
senior leaders from participating countries, including
the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and Chile,
had a conference to go through what they wanted to
accomplish with this year’s exercise.
The list of participants certainly is a diverse one.
It includes many strong allies with significant mili-
tary spending, like the United Kingdom, Japan and
France. It also features allies that
are not known as naval powerhous-
es, like Tonga and Brunei, as well
as nations that are not even allies,
No matter what their status is, all
of the nations involved have these
overriding interests: The Pacific
Ocean and a desire to collaborate
on things like disaster relief and
“The objective of the RIMPAC
exercise is to enhance the interoperability of the combined RIMPAC
There also is a “strict set of business rules” for
participants. For example, nations cannot just get a
leadership position in the exercise if they have not participated very much in past RIMPACs.
The first RIMPAC was held in 1971 with the
United States being joined by just Australia, Canada,
New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Since then,
countries such as France, Japan, South Korea, Peru,
Chile and many more have become regular participants. China, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Russia and the
Philippines have participated as observer nations in
the past, which means they did not contribute ships
but were involved at the strategic level and have the
opportunity to participate in the future.
This year’s RIMPAC is scheduled to start June 30
and last through Aug. 4.
The main challenge with RIMPAC has been managing the increasing complexity with so many nations
participating. It also is made more complex by who
participates. Because the Chinese are involved, for
Gathering of Nations
The 2016 Rim of the Pacific exercise will bring 27 countries together
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Special Correspondent
Desire to Collaborate
The biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, which began
in 1971 with just five nations, this year will see 27 countries participate.
n The nations involved have interests in the Pacific Ocean and
the desire to collaborate on things like disaster relief and counter-piracy operations.
n Because the group of participants is so diverse, the Navy has
to be very mindful about what kind of scenarios it practices during
n Up to 4,000 major events will take place during the exercise,
including live-fire exercises, boarding scenarios, amphibious movements, medical triage and others.