Philippines at RIMPAC: Inside the largest naval exercise in the world

July 4, 2018 - 3:06 PM
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Various units and assets of the Philippine Navy are currently participating in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, a series of military exercises with its traditional defense ally, the United States and 23 other countries.

A show of the world’s muscle

The biennial maritime warfare exercise usually held off the coast of Hawaii is considered the largest naval exercise in the world. Overseen by the United States’ coast guard, navy, and federal government of Hawaii, invitations are usually sent out to nations with territories around the Pacific Rim.

This year’s participants are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.

International ships participating in RIMPAC 2018 exercise moor at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam prior to beginning the at-sea phase of the exercise. (US Navy photo)

These countries have sent more than 45 ships and submarines, about 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel. The RIMPAC exercises seek to strengthen multilateral cooperation between its participants.

The strategic sealift vessel BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), an AgustaWestland AW-109 naval helicopter and around 700 sailors and marines comprise the Philippines’ contingent.

What Filipino troops are doing at RIMPAC

Activities are set to run from June 29 until August 2. Among the activities the Philippines is joining are:

  • Amphibious assault vehicle familiarization
  • Life-saving training exercises
  • Urban terrain military operations training
  • Beach insertion rehearsal
  • Combat life training
  • Fast rope insertion and extraction system training

Photos from the Philippines’ and United States’ navies show scenes from the combat life saving training involving Marines of the two countries as well as fast rope insertion and extraction system training and beach raid simulation.

Urban operations training for ground troops was also part of the module used at RIMPAC.

The Philippines’ participation comes after President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statements honoring traditional alliances with nations such as the United States and Japan.

China, which was present in the last RIMPAC in 2016, was disinvited in this year’s exercises over its military assertions in the South China Sea against some of RIMPAC’s participating countries.