One of the highlights of each successive Exercise RIMPAC is the traditional Fleet Photograph Exercise (PHOTEX), held towards the end of the sea-phase period. The RIMPAC 2014 PHOTEX took place in Hawaiian waters on Friday 25 July.
The 42 ships, including 4 submarines, commenced manoeuvring for the evolution the previous night and by 1500 were closed up at just 500 yards separation in 7 columns of surface ships and submarines. It was a formidable formation.
HMAS Success was in the centre of the formation, sixth in line behind lead ship USS Ronald Reagan and immediately preceding the US hospital ship, USNS Mercy.
Success’s Assistant Officer of the Watch for a large part of the exercise, Lieutenant Daniel James, said it was an experience he’d not soon forget.
“It was amazing to see so many ships from different navies coming together from all points of the compass. It was a great experience - I’ve never seen a sight like it,” Lieutenant James said.
As soon as participants in the PHOTEX had broken away, Success moved directly into her next series of evolutions - dual ship, three station, night replenishments at sea (RAS).
She performed two dual RAS evolutions, the first with USS Port Royal and US Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, followed by USS Gary and USS Cape St George.
Whilst the dual RAS was underway, a concurrent Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) was conducted by Success’s organic Seahawk helicopter with both USS Gary and USCGC Waesche.
In total, 1700 cubic metres of F76 and 25 cubic metres of F44 was provided to the customer ships.
The heavy Jackstay was also connected as a demonstration of the versatility of Success and the capability she brings to the force.
Success’s Liquid cargo Officer, Lieutenant Kristian Brown, said it was a particularly busy day.
“I’ve been onboard Success for 4½ years and this is the most complex evolution I have seen undertaken over that period,” he said.
It was a very satisfying and rewarding day of evolutions that completed almost 24 hours after it began.
Exercise RIMPAC 2014 Imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20141711