BY LT. JEFF MORGAN, SC, USN, FUELS INTERN, NAVSUP FLEET LOGISTICS CENTER PEARL HARBOR
Twenty-six nations, 45 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel participated in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise conducted June 30 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 that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.
RIMPAC 2016’s theme of “Capable, Adaptive, Partners” highlighted participating nations demonstrating the flexibility of maritime forces to meet regional and global challenges for mutual benefit. Among the 25,000 personnel, this year’s exercise included participants from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, People’s Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, and the United Kingdom, in addition to the United States. This was the first time that Denmark, Germany, and Italy have participated in RIMPAC.
Participating nations exercised a wide range of capabilities and demonstrated the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. Whether humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious assaults, beach raids, flight deck and well deck cross-decking evolutions, missile shoots, or the sinking of the now decommissioned frigate USS Thatch (FFG 43), RIMPAC 2016 collectively demonstrated the importance of adapting to an increasingly global environment and Joint operations. The exercise not only provided an exceptional experience working with the many nations, but also provided a unique opportunity to significantly expand our interoperability and, thus, our capability in providing logistics support to ensure peak warfighter readiness.
Participation in RIMPAC is critical because there is simply no substitute for the experience gained by planning, training and working in such an environment. For the duration of RIMPAC 2016, NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Pearl Harbor played the lead logistics role. The mission of NAVSUP FLC Pearl Harbor is to provide global logistics, business and support services to Fleet, shore and industrial commands of the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Joint and Allied Forces throughout the mid-Pacific.
The success of any large-scale maritime operation is contingent upon the availability of logistics, particularly the “beans, bullets and black oil” required by all participating units. The fulfillment of such logistics requirements is NAVSUP FLC Pearl Harbor’s mission - a “24-7” job that takes place on sun-baked piers and air fields, and even hundreds of feet below ground in Red Hill’s fuel tunnels. RIMPAC fully exercises the command’s role as a logistics provider, and NAVSUP FLC Pearl Harbor supply officers, enlisted logisticians and civilian employees find themselves at the proverbial “tip of the spear.”
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Members of the NAVSUP FLC Pearl Harbor MLSE and LSR Teams compl eted an on-load for USNS Rainer (T-AOE 7) and USNS Rap - pahannok (T-AO 204) in a torrential downpour. Personnel from le ft to right are: PO2 Shipman, PO2 Chokdup, Lt. j.g. Martinez, C mdr. Yim, Lt. j.g. Jurgens, Capt. Negrette, PO2 Rojas, PO2 Cerda, Capt. S emmler, PO2 Ramel, PO2 Nobach, PO2 Jewett, PO3 Aquino, PO2 Park es, PO1 Estrada, PO3 Ansley, Lt. Cmdr. Herbert, SK3 Herbert (Coast Guar d), PO Ellis (Australia), Flight Seargent Winwood (New Zealand Air Force), Aircraftsman Barakuta (New Zealand Air Force), PO2 Whitehall, PO2 Santos, Flying Officer Hall (New Zealand Air Force), CPO (Sel) Strong, PO2 Menjivar, Lt. Cmdr. Sasano (Japan), PO2 Laupa , PO Moores (Canada), EO3 Earegood, Guardiamarina Berrocal (Chile). – Photo taken by PO1 Marie Canales, Fleet Combat Camera Pacific.
Long before RIMPAC 2016 began, NAVSUP FLC Pearl Harbor worked closely with the multinational RIMPAC force with one purpose – to deliver effective, sustained logistics support to the Fleet. The development and implementation of the Multinational Logistics Support Element (MLSE) that included seven nations – Australia, Canada, Japan, K orea, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States – during RIMPAC 2012 remained key to our success. The MLSE is a unique component to NAVSUP FLC Pearl Harbor that includes an international, Reserve, and multi-service active-duty team. In order to maintain greater coalition synergy, countries such as Canada and Australia have taken turns leading the MLSE; Japan led this year’s RIMPAC team. As a result, the MLSE further developed strong multinational relationships, enhanced understanding, and perfected the cohesiveness of all countries involved.
“The importance of multinational relationships, particularly with regions bordering the Pacific, cannot be downplayed,” said Lt. Calvin White, NAVSUP FLC Pearl Harbor operational support officer. “Our international counterparts and Reservists fully integrated with the team and led the effort to provide operational support to all 45 U.S. and foreign ships participating in RIMPAC.”
The Department of the Navy’s Great Green Fleet initiative also played a major role in RIMPAC 2016. The initiative highlights global operations using energy conservation measures and alternative fuel blends to demonstrate how optimizing energy use increases resiliency and operational readiness. The fuel is made of a drop–in alternative, meaning no modifications to engines or operational procedures are required. The same fuel used during the deployment of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Strike Group, centerpiece for the Great Green Fleet and RIMPAC 2016, allowed the Navy to further demonstrate, test and evaluate the functionality of advanced biofuels during the RIMPAC operational setting.
From the end of June through the beginning of August, NAVSUP FLC Pearl Harbor Fuels Director Lt. Cmdr. Drew Lovgren executed the successful receipt and delivery of more than 14 million gallons of fuel to U.S. and coalition ships and aircraft. “The use of alternative fuel in the supply chain increases operational readiness and flexibility by allowing forces to obtain fuel from more sources worldwide,” said Lovgren. “This is especially true in the Pacific, which has the world’s largest energy demand and where the tyranny of distance is most prevalent; everything must travel long distances.”
Whether it was running along the pier or across the flight line to ensure provisions and cargo reached their destination, all hands were on deck to ensure maximum customer support. The hours were long and the pace was hectic, but through it all, the sense of satisfaction was enormous. When all was said and done:
- the Mail Center received, sorted, and dispatched more than 187,000 pounds of mail to RIMPAC participants;
- the Ocean Terminal longshoremen onloaded/offloaded 2,576 pallets of material with the constant delivery or staging of shipping containers;
- six loadouts for replenishments-at-sea were conducted by our longshoremen and international, Reserve and Logistics Support Representatives (LSR) team;
- the regional contracting department provided more than $300,000 in direct contracting support, with the bulk of the contracts attributed to chartered bus services; transportation of more than 1,400 personnel and more than 410 short-tons of air cargo were provided by the 647th Logistics Readiness Squadron; and
- the international, Reserve and LSR team expedited 184 high-priority items, processed 606 depot-level repairable parts, and delivered approximately 3.9 million dollars in provisions.
Performing such a feat does not happen by accident. In fact, it requires constant flexibility and interoperability between branches and nations in order to prepare, plan, and execute the daily missions. By aligning our efforts and ideas with other nations, we build lasting, trusting relationships, and in doing so, we have further laid the foundation for global prosperity.
As the final pallets were swung onto the remaining pier–side vessels and the sun set over RIMPAC 2016, all were quietly aware that one day they might meet again; perhaps as steadfast allies during a future contingency. RIMPAC 2016 marked the 25th in the series, which began in 1971. The next RIMPAC will be held in 2018.