Watch: Live Fire Sinking Exercise Caps Two-Week RIMPAC Exercise in Pacific

Mike Schuler
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August 31, 2020

Live fire from ships and aircraft participating in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise sink the decommissioned amphibious cargo ship ex-USS Durham (LKA 114) August 30. U.S. Navy Photo

A live fire exercise known as SINKEX has capped off the two-week Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in Hawaii.

The decommissioned amphibious cargo ship ex-USS Durham (LKA 114) was sunk August 30 during a live fire training exercise involving ships and aircraft from a host nations participating in RIMPAC, the international maritime warfare exercise held every other year in the water surrounding Hawaiian Islands.

This year’s RIMPAC, held August 17 to August 31, included participating from ten nations, 22 surface ships, one submarine, and approximately 5,300 personnel. The at-sea-only construct for RIMPAC 2020 was developed to ensure the safety of all military forces participating, and Hawaii’s population, by minimizing shore-based contingents, while striking a balance between combating future adversaries and the COVID-19 threat.

The sinking exercise provides the opportunity for participants to gain proficiency and confidence in their weapons and systems through realistic training that could not be duplicated in simulators.

Former Navy vessels used in SINKEXs, referred to as hulks, are prepared in strict compliance with regulations prescribed and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency under a general permit the Navy holds pursuant to the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act.

Each SINKEX is required to sink the hulk in at least 1,000 fathoms (6,000 feet) of water and at least 50 nautical miles from land. Surveys are conducted to ensure people and marine mammals are not in an area where they could be harmed during the event.

The Ex-Durham was a Charleston-class amphibious cargo ship commissioned on May 24, 1969, and was decommissioned on February 25, 1994. The ship was named for Durham, North Carolina, and served during the Gulf War.

RIMPAC 2020 is the 27th exercise in the series that began in 1971. This year, South Korea, Canada, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, New Zealand, Brunei and France all participated alongside the United States.


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