Antipodean neighbours, Australia and New Zealand, demonstrated multinational cooperation in June, when members of the Australian Defence Force contingent deploying to Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2014 (RIMPAC) “hitched a ride” to Hawaii with their kiwi counterparts.
One-hundred-and-twenty-three Australian Defence Force members travelled to the exercise area aboard two Royal New Zealand Air Force 757 flights, while 117 members of the Australian Army’s 5th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR) travelled to RIMPAC on-board the Royal New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS Canterbury.
Now in Hawaii, the two nations have begun their participation in the world’s largest naval exercise, with 22 nations involved in RIMPAC this year - more than ever before.
During the exercise, 48 surface ships, six submarines and more than 200 aircraft will be manned and crewed by 25,000 personnel from across the Pacific Rim. Nations involved include Australia, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and, for the first time, China and Brunei.
Australia will be represented by the Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment Vessel HMAS Success, the Collins Class submarine HMAS Sheean, the Maritime Clearance Diving Task Group with diving elements, a rifle company from 5 RAR, three AP-3C Orion aircraft and around 970 Australian Defence Force personnel from the Navy, Army and Air Force.
A Royal Australian Navy officer, Rear Admiral Simon Cullen, has been appointed as the Deputy Commander of the Exercise for the first time in history, while Royal Australian Air Force Air Commodore Christopher Westwood will command the air component of RIMPAC 14, which is another first for the Australian Defence Force.
Rear Admiral Cullen said the Australian Defence Force personnel participating in RIMPAC would reap tremendous benefits from their involvement.
“RIMPAC is a unique opportunity to build interoperability and cultivate ties with the armed forces of Pacific Rim countries. As economic and strategic weight shifts to the Asia-Pacific, it will be increasingly important for Pacific Rim nations to work together to continue to promote security and prosperity,” Rear Admiral Cullen said.
“The key theme of this year’s RIMPAC is ‘capable, adaptive, partners’ and I have urged all of the Australians participating to forge positive and long-lasting professional relationships with their international counterparts, which will not only greatly enhance their own careers, but also the operational capability of the Royal Australian Navy for many years to come,” he said.
Exercise RIMPAC kicked off on 26 June and will continue until 1 August. The Australian Defence Force hopes to ‘hitch another ride’ with its close friend, New Zealand, to get home.