First RIMPAC for U.S. naval officer

Published: Jul. 2, 2012 at 7:34 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 3, 2012 at 12:40 AM HST
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U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Patrick McGrath
U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Patrick McGrath
Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman
Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman
U.S. Pacific Fleet Cdr. Cecil Haney
U.S. Pacific Fleet Cdr. Cecil Haney

PEARL HARBOR (HawaiiNewsNow) - With armadas at sea, assaults on land and airborne maneuvers, the Rim of the Pacific military exercise is huge.

This year 22 nations and 25,000 personnel will participate, plus one admiral who helps head the 3rd Fleet, which is the leader of the exercise.

"What I'm expecting is the opportunity to work with 22 other countries all bound by the fact that we live on the sea," U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Patrick McGrath said.

Up to now, McGrath's experience with RIMPAC has been second-hand.  After 33 years in the Navy, he made it to the maritime military's Olympics.

"Instead of competing with each other, we like to consider it a gathering of gold medallists representing 22 different nations," Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman said.

Through August 3, 42 war ships, six submarines and over 200 aircraft will train in waters and air space around Hawaii.

It's all at once complicated and simple.

"The bottom line though is if you're communicating with a ship and you want them to turn left, you need to make sure that when you said turn left they understood you, and they can communicate back," McGrath said.

This RIMPAC will feature the first time the U.S. demonstrates its eco-friendly green fleet, plus the first humanitarian assistance disaster relief event.

"It's just critical to ensuring the safety of the sea lanes and the security on the world's oceans," U.S. Pacific Fleet Cdr. Cecil Haney said.

New participants include Russia and five other countries. China wasn't invited. RIMPAC provides an opportunity for fleets under different flags to join forces, from planning, through combat scenarios, to integrated operations.

"It is very intense. We need to walk, crawl, run to get to there," McGrath said.

McGrath will retire next year with RIMPAC finally under his belt and off his to-do list.

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