RIMPAC exercises to ensure freedom of navigation
RIMPAC, the world largest maritime exercise has 10 countries and 22 surface ships
MANILA – This year’s “Rim of the Pacific” this year remains to be the largest maritime exercise in Hawaii featuring live-fire exercises with joint and combined operations to “demonstrate the value of capable and adaptive maritime partners in terms of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
This was how US Navy Vice Admiral Scott D. Conn. Commander of the Third Fleet, speaking from Hawaii, looks at the 27th edition of the RIMPC exercise, with 22 ships, a submarine and about 5,300 men and women at sea, in a teleconference this morning with international journalists.
Asked if the exercise is to prepare for conflict against China, Admiral Conn said the exercise hopes to improve the capability and strength in cooperation with the participants from Australia, Brunei, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Singapore and the United States of America.
“It’s a means by which the United States can reassure all allies and partners that we’re staunchly committed to the values of a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” he said.
The RIMPAC comes at a time when the People’s Liberation Army has its own air and naval exercises with two missiles fired into the South China Sea.
Vice Admiral Conn said the exercise they’re in has been planned two the last two years. He said he is aware of China’s exercises but “as long as they’re doing it in accordance with international law and norms, they have every right to do so.”
He added there are 10 nations participating in the exercise while China has “less than two.”
“And in terms of launching of ballistic missiles, the U. S. Navy has 38 ships underway today in the Indo-Pacific region including the South China Sea,” he added. He explained they continue to fly and sail and operate anywhere international law allows to demonstrate his country’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and reassure their allies and partners.
Vice Admiral Conn said they monitor the exercise in the region including the firing of ballistic missile and has remained ready to respond to any threats to allies and partners.
Asked of the Philippines’ participation in RIMPAC, Vice Admiral Conn said they appreciate the participation of Philippine Navy personnel aboard BRP Jose Rizal and they are doing “a phenomenal job.”
“In terms of the on again/off again approach, I’m not going to make those comments. I respect the fact that individual nations have to make choices. We continue to stress our free and open values, and we are just more than happy to have Philippines here with us this year,” he concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)