As commented by MacProHawaii, we've had a full month of watching US military exercises in Hawaii. The final RIMPAC 2010 exercise was an amphibious assault by the joint forces of the US Marines 3rd Battalion and Royal Australian Regiment. In the above video the amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) are shown leaving the USS Cleveland. Our opportunity to watch the deployment of AAVs from the USS Cleveland was preempted by mechanical problems. Understandably, the USS Cleveland is one of the oldest ships in the fleet, commissioned in 1967. It's planned decommissioning is for Sept. 2011. But with the combination of Marine Lance Cpl. Kevin Beebe's video and this video, both shot during RIMPAC 2010, you get a good idea of what the transition from ship to land is like. Once on land the dozen AAVs and 100 troops stormed an area on Kaneohe Marine Corps Base. Their mission was to take this insurgent training camp over the hill. This video by Gabriel Yanagihara nicely captures the exercise. The white smoke billowing from the AAVs is to obstruct viewing as one group of Marines took out a mock insurgent camp. Another group of Marines held the high ground and provided cover fire for the advancing troops. You will notice in the video the constant up and down of the troops as they maneuver for position. I was told it is like a mantra they repeat: I am up, they see me. I am down. Basically it is to minimize getting shot as a standing target. Though out of our field of view, when the Marines finally took the training camp there was a crescendo of gunfire, much like what you hear at the end of the firecracker strand during New Years Eve. I am not surprised this blogger lost her job as a PR person for the Marines. This certainly was not a SNOOZEPAC.
The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is just one of 32 vessels in Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific exercises held every two years. My run on Sunday morning takes me along Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial. I shot this photo from the Visitor Center area. It is pretty amazing how many ships are in the Pearl Harbor lochs. I've never seen air craft carriers double parked before. At the press conference on Monday, June 28, 2010, Vice Admiral Richard Hunt talked about how the first RIMPAC in 1971 was focused on "blue water" exercises. In 2010, the focus is on the littoral. (Wikipedia: The littoral zone refers to that part of a sea, lake or river that is close to the shore.) In this case the waters off the islands. I suspect Bellows will be a site of some of the littoral exercise during these coming weeks. The Navy has newly designed vessels specifically for littoral operations. The USS Freedom is one such vessel participating in RIMPAC 2010. Another is the RSS Supreme from Singapore. The RSS Supreme is part of the Formidable class stealth frigate. If you look at the surface of this vessel you can see the patchwork of radar absorbing panels. It almost looks like it is padded. The RSS Supreme was parked right next to the DDG Atago from Japan. The Japanese brought two ships, the DDG 177 Atago and the DD 108 Akebono. These two ships were double parked right next to each other. I would have loved to be on the ship when they did that maneuver. The DDG Atago is based on the Arleigh-Burke (Aegis) destroyer design but manufactured by Mitsubishi of Japan. I find it interesting that the show Ryomaden, currently airing on KIKU-TV is a story about Ryoma Sakamoto told by Iwasaki Yataro, founder of Mitsubishi. The show goes into good detail about Yataro's humble beginnings as a bird cage peddler and his ambitions as a businessman. I wonder what he would have thought if he knew someday his company would be furnishing the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) with high tech destroyers based on a US design. I am sure it would have blown his mind. The tour of the DDG Atago was relatively quick but we did get to visit the bridge, deck and officers dining room. I did notice one thing, that ship was the cleanest ship I have every been on. Everything sparkled, even the propeller on the life boat. Today the DDG Atago participated in a anti-piracy inspection drill. If you are interested in more photos of the DDG Atago you can view this set.