Nations gather in Hawaii for nautical training exercises

Vice Admiral Samuel Locklear
Vice Admiral Samuel Locklear

By Leland Kim - bio | email

PEARL HARBOR (KHNL) - Twenty one years, ten nations and tens of thousands of sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guard. It's the biennial month-long military maneuver known as the Rim of the Pacific exercise or RIMPAC.

It's a major event. We're talking about six submarines, 35 ships and more than a hundred fifty aircraft taking part in this year's RIMPAC exercises.

It's the largest multi-national exercise in the world. Ten countries and more than 19,000 men and women here for one mission: to improve international security.

"The first thing we do among the countries is, we build trust," said Vice Admiral Samuel Locklear, the commander of the U.S. Navy's Third Fleet. "And that trust builds partnership, and those partnerships ultimately contribute to the improved global security environment."

A goal especially important during times of war.

"Part of our exercises here includes the ability to deal with those types of forces," said Locklear.

While the U.S. makes up more than three-quarters of the total personnel -- 15,342 out of 19,386 members -- other countries have equal say, equal input at RIMPAC.

"It's a recognition that no one country can maintain the global security environment," said Locklear.

And that global perspective is reflected in the media coverage. Journalists from Asia and Australia are covering the event.

"I feel very comfortable that I'm here just looking at the ocean," said Masato Kurosaki, a Japanese journalist who works for Kyodo News in Tokyo, Japan, through a translator. "I can see a lot of similarities between the Japanese ocean and the Hawaii ocean so I'm very happy to be here."

Besides using high-tech equipment for tactical exercises, they use technology to minimize damage to the environment. The U.S. Navy completed an extensive environmental impact statement process.

"I can tell you unequivocally that each of the nations participating in RIMPAC has environmental sensitivity and protection as their highest priority," said Locklear.

Looking at global security and environmental awareness at this year's RIMPAC exercises.

They're in the midst of the planning stage right now. Starting Tuesday, they shift into the operational phase, going out into the ocean to engage in live fire exercises, undersea warfare and other training progams. RIMPAC ends on July 28.