1 August 2012: RIMPAC Hands to Action Stations!
HMNZS TE KAHA and HMNZS ENDEAVOUR sailed from the Port of Honolulu on Thursday 12 July for the sea phases of Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012. The next three weeks went by faster than anyone could have imagined, so intensive were each day’s activities.
“TE KAHA is now approaching the final few days of RIMPAC 2012,” said Lieutenant Ed Fulker, a bridge watch keeper and the ship’s public relations officer, as RIMPAC neared its climax in late July. “This is somewhat of a surprise for Ship's Company as the last two weeks has passed in a blur of exercises and integration training, all in preparation for the final tactical phase.”
RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime exercise, involving 22 countries, 25,000 personnel, 42 ships, six submarines and over 200 aircraft spanning all maritime-based warfare disciplines.
This was the first time in 28 years New Zealand has taken part in RIMPAC. Other units from the NZ Defence Force taking part in the exercise are the Navy’s Operational Diving Team and the Mine Counter Measures Team, a Rifle Platoon from 1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment based on the amphibious assault ship USS ESSEX, a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K Orion and a number of headquarters staff.
Following the first phase of mainly serialised exercises, the participating ships regrouped to conduct Force Integration Training for five days. This entailed TE KAHA protecting the High Value Unit, USS ESSEX, from sub-surface, surface and air attack, working with other warships from around the Pacific to achieve the aim.
“There was also the opportunity to board ‘contacts of interest'—which closely resembled the destroyer USS CHAFEE)—providing invaluable training for both the boarding team and the ship,” said LT Fulker.
On Friday 27 July, most of the ships gathered for a ‘Photographic Exercise’. Said TE KAHA CO Commander Jon Beadsmoore: “This involved 42 ships carrying 16,000 personnel and displacing half a million tonnes, concentrated into three square miles; equivalent to the area between North Head and Takapuna across to Rangitoto or for Hurricanes fans, the area between the foreshore at Petone and Matiu/Somes Island. “
So far TEK has been working very hard, night and day, every member of the Ship's Company has made a difference in achieving thus far, from day one of work-up in February this year to now, being a valuable part of the biggest maritime military exercise in the world. The year to date is a period TEK can look back on and be proud of its achievements
LT Fulker said while TE KAHA had worked with most of the nations at RIMPAC individually, to interact with so many ships from so many countries simultaneously was a terrific experience.
“In our task group we have two US ships, a Japanese ship, a South Korean ship, a Chilean ship and ourselves. We have conducted various five-inch gunnery firings—a frequent event for the ship—but what is out of the ordinary for us is that we are conducting gunnery in a line with up to 21 warships firing! “The same applies for all activities; replenishment is a well practised evolution on TE KAHA, especially with ENDEAVOUR, however yesterday we conducted replenishment with USNS YUKON, almost four times the size of our own tanker.”
Picture: HMNZS ENDEAVOUR performing a double RAS (replenishment at sea) refuelling both HMNZS TE KAHA (left) and South Korean ship ROKS CHOI YOUNG (right) simultaneously during Ex RIMPAC.