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RIMPAC San Diego – Mine Warfare

By Rear Adm. William Merz, Commander, Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, assigned as RIMPAC Task Force Commander 177, Commander Mine Warfare Task Force

San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23), Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships USS Scout (MCM 8) and USS Champion (MCM 4), and Canadian Forces Kingston-Class coastal defense vessel HMCS Nanaimo (MM 702) transit in formation off the coast of Southern California as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.
USS Anchorage (LPD 23), USS Scout (MCM 8), USS Champion (MCM 4), and Canadian Forces Kingston-Class coastal defense vessel HMCS Nanaimo (MM 702) transit in formation off the coast of Southern California as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.

 

The bulk of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) is conducted in and around the Hawaiian Islands, but more than 1,000 men and women representing nine nations are concurrently executing an extensive mine warfare scenario in the waters off Southern California and in San Diego Bay. In my duties as Commander, Naval Mine and Anti-submarine Command (NMAWC), I have the honor to serve as CTF 177, Commander Mine Warfare (MIW) Task Force during RIMPAC 2014.

Divers from the Royal New Zealand Navy Mine Counter Measures Team (RNZNMCMT) conduct operations off the coast of Southern California.
Divers from the Royal New Zealand Navy Mine Counter Measures Team (RNZNMCMT) conduct operations off the coast of Southern California.

 

The scale of the mine warfare effort at RIMPAC makes it one of the largest mine warfare exercises of its kind. Forces involved include mine-sweeping surface ships, dive teams, unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), marine mammals, and mine countermeasure helicopters operating in some very challenging environments aboard one of the newest U.S. amphibious ships, USS Anchorage (LPD 23). The mix of complex systems and multinational teams focusing on a common mine warfare effort offers each participating nation a rare opportunity to integrate their capabilities and gain additional expertise that will ultimately reinforce each nation’s skill and performance in this demanding and tedious mission.

An MH-53E from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HSM) 14 takes off from the flight deck of USS Anchorage (LPD 23) during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.
An MH-53E from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HSM) 14 takes off from the flight deck of USS Anchorage (LPD 23) during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.

 

More than in other mission areas, mine warfare depends on the collective capability of coalition partners; and with two weeks still to go, RIMPAC has already proven to be the most productive and the most successful mine warfare event we have seen. Lessons we have learned during RIMPAC will serve the international mine warfare community well into the future.

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