At approximately 8 a.m. Hawaii time, US Navy watch officers received reports of a fire and potential injuries aboard a Combined Task Force ship. The ship, which has not yet been identified, was participating in the US Navy’s RIMPAC exercise, the world’s largest international naval warfare exercise which is held every two years.
The Peruvian Navy released a statement acknowledging that its corvette Guise suffered a fire that was extinguished by the crew and with support from foreign units nearby. Two crewmembers suffering from burns were medevaced to Honolulu.
At 1:40 p.m. the US Navy reported the fire in the engine room aboard the burning ship was extinguished and two critically injured sailors were evacuated by a helicopter and transported to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
Shortly after the fire was extinguished ship-spotters in Hawaii noticed the Navy salvage tugboat USNS Grasp departed Hawaii and set sail in the direction of the RIMPAC exercises.
The USNS Grasp is one of the four fleet tugs/salvage ships left in the US Navy and is operated by US Merchant Mariners working for Military Sealift Command. The rugged construction of this steel-hulled vessel, combined with her speed and endurance, makes Grasp well-suited for rescue and salvage operations throughout the Pacific Ocean.
Grasp has three manually operated fire monitors, one on the forward signal bridge, one on the aft signal bridge, and one on the forecastle, that can deliver up to 1,000 US gallons (3,800 L) per minute of seawater. She has a bollard pull (towing force at zero speed and full power) of 68 tons.
We do not know the cause of the fire but RIMPAC 2022 does contain live fire exercises and realistic warfare simulations including the sinking of a decommissioned frigate, the USS Rodney M. Davis.
This is the first full-scale RIMPAC in four years after the 2020 exercise was significantly scaled down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. RIMPAC 2022 includes the participation of twenty-six nations, 38 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering cooperation among participants. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
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