By Capt. Chris Merwin
Commander, Task Force (CTF) 171
Nations involved in Rim of the Pacific 2016 get a unique chance to practice joint and combined operations that translate to real-world scenarios as part of the world’s largest international maritime exercise.
During RIMPAC, I am leading Combined Task Force 171 that oversees the Navy Expeditionary Forces (NEF) participating this year. Countries in CTF-171 include the United States, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China. We are located in two expeditionary camps, one on Ford Island and one on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Our U.S. forces include Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit 1, Coastal Riverine Forces (CRF), Naval Construction Force (NCF) and Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG).
For CTF-171, RIMPAC is an opportunity to demonstrate and practice Navy Expeditionary Forces capabilities in an expeditionary environment with our partners.
Let me explain what some of our forces will be doing during RIMPAC 2016.
EOD forces will participate in a variety of joint and combined training ranging from equipment and diving familiarization, to site exploitation. EOD technicians locate identity, render safe and explosively dispose of foreign and domestic ordnance including conventional, chemical, biological, nuclear, underwater and improvised devices.
Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit 1.
MDSU-1 will provide command and control of fleet survey teams, Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2 and coalition divers from the U.S. Coast Guard, Canada, New Zealand, People’s Republic of China and Australia. MDSU-1 will support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and expeditionary salvage efforts during RIMPAC.
Coastal Riverine Force.
CRF operates ashore, at sea and in the waters of harbors, rivers, bays and across the littorals, conducting maritime security operations across all phases of military operations by providing port and harbor security and high value asset security inland and on coastal waterways and ashore. During RIMPAC, CRF will conduct long-range navigation with the U.S. Coast Guard and other nations. Additionally, Coastal Riverine Group One will provide a staff to the Japanese Commander, Escort Flotilla 3 in order to conduct foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in support of coalition relief efforts. They will work closely with the Multinational Military Coordination Center to respond to international community requests for assistance. CRG-1 will coordinate with coalition nation partners and international relief organizations to support host nation relief efforts.
Naval Construction Force.
NCF Seabees provide combat engineering in support of naval operating forces. This includes construction and maintenance of forward operating and logistics bases, airfield construction and expansion, repair to air and sea ports, roads, bridges and bunkers, as well as underwater construction to survey, restore and repair maritime infrastructure in ports and harbors.
Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit.
CBMU-303 and UCT-2 will provide a variety of engineering support, with both units demonstrating humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities. UCT-2 will conduct port recovery and port assessments together with combined task units from Combined Task Force 171. CBMU-303 will conduct simulated damage assessments and surveys of Hickam Field as well as provide expeditionary camp support.
Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group.
NAVELSG delivers logistics capabilities and equipment to theater commanders in support of the military strategy worldwide conducting port and air cargo handling missions, fuels, distribution, freight terminal and warehouse operations and ordnance reporting and handling. Naval Expeditionary Logistics Regiment (NELR) is providing CTG-19 command and control of Navy Cargo Handling Battalions 8 and 10 detachments, CBMU-303 and 130th Engineering Brigade detachment, and LSV-2 Harold C Clinger, conducting HA/DR operations.
Editor’s notes: Merwin is the commander of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 1, an operational at-sea command that conducts explosive ordnance disposal, diving and salvage operations across U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Northern Command areas of responsibility. He is qualified as an EOD officer, a master EOD technician, a naval parachutist and a mixed-gas diving and salvage officer.
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