RIMPAC to begin, but will be scaled back and held at sea only

Updated: Aug. 17, 2020 at 8:04 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - RIMPAC, the world’s largest maritime exercises, begins Monday. But it will be scaled way back and only held at sea off the islands.

The Rim of the Pacific exercises will be held through Aug. 31 with 10 nations, 20 ships and 5,000 personnel. Five times as many were here the last time the exercises were held.

When ships make logistics stops at Pearl Harbor, sailors may not leave the pier.

RIMPAC is held every two years and typically brings tens of thousands of military personnel to the islands.

But the logistics of doing that amid the COVID-19 pandemic posed serious questions, and many residents called on the Navy to call it off. Instead, the Navy said they’re keeping RIMPAC participants offshore.

In more normal times, the exercises help Waikiki hotels and are a boon for retailers, eateries and bars. But participants won’t be at Waikiki hotels, which means the usual $50 million boost to Hawaii’s economy also isn’t happening.

That’s another big hit to Hawaii’s tourism industry.

Officials said there are no scheduled RIMPAC social events in Hawaii this year, and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam will have a “minimal footprint of staff” for logistics and support functions.

In 2018, 26 countries were part of the exercises.

This story will be updated.

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