Members of the multinational special operations force supporting the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise participated in a submarine insertion evolution at sea, aboard Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776), off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii, July 9.
Special Operations Forces (SOF) from the United States, Republic of Korea, Republic of the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Peru, and Japan participated in the event designed to enhance each countries maritime interoperability.
“The main purpose of RIMPAC is to bring countries together and build partnerships,” said Cmdr. John C. Roussakies, commanding officer of USS Hawaii (SSN 776). “Developing that interoperability is important because it’s a big ocean out there, and we cannot do the job ourselves.”
The submarine Hawaii, using a reconfigured torpedo room, transported approximately 30 multinational SOF operators to a debarkation point off the coast of Oahu.
“It sounds like it should be easy, but it’s a lot of work,” said Roussakies. “It took five to six sailors to carry each raft onto the sub, and the vessel will be ‘rocking and rolling’ on the surface.”
SOF personnel used the submarine’s lockout chamber to exit the ship, inflate rigid hull inflatable boats, and make an amphibious landing.
“For some of our partner-nation special operators, submarine evolutions like today were new,” said Army Capt. Matthew Song, detachment commander of Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha from 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group based out of Okinawa, Japan. “We rehearsed the day before, and that set us up for success because they executed pretty well today.”
Song said dry dock launches like the one performed during this exercise are essential because it provides critical standoff distance for our special operators during maritime operations.
“At the end of the day RIMPAC is about partnerships, everything that we are doing is purposely designed so that we can operate together with our partners,” said Song. “The relationships we are building today are important, and we hope to maintain them so that when there is a problem, we can all come together to solve it.”
Twenty-five nations, 46 ships, five submarines, about 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 27 to Aug. 2 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security of the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971.