Midway Dives Into International Naval Training Exercise 

Although it’s been more than 30 years since the USS Midway last steamed into harm’s way, she’s still stepping up to the plate when called upon to serve the men and women of today’s Navy.

Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 is the largest multinational maritime exercise in the world. This biennial training exercise scheduled every other summer takes place in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The U.S. Navy’s 3rd Fleet, who coordinated the month-long exercise, enlisted Midway assistance for some important targeted training.

 “Although the majority of the exercise was focused in Hawaii, there was a small subsection here in Southern California,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Emily Judstra, who was director of the Southern California combined information bureau during the RIMPAC exercise. “As part of the exercise, forces used the USS Midway Museum to practice maritime improvised explosive devices and limpet mine drills on a realistic target to enhance training and interoperability.”

Australian Clearance Dive Team Four approaches Midway.

The San Diego Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center hosted the training on Midway with 33 different units participating from multiple allied nations. American naval explosive ordnance teams worked with Australian, German, Japanese, New Zealand and UK naval forces to identify and remove inert training devices from on and around Midway’s hull during this phase of the exercise.

“This was a mine countermeasure exercise where we cleared and removed limpet mines on the Midway,” said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Thomas, commanding officer of Australian Clearance Diving Team Four. “This required special techniques and tools. It was quite a difficult task involving specialized diving in difficult conditions. It improved our interoperability and made us more adaptable when working with our international partners.”

According to 3rd Fleet, RIMPAC was designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s interconnected oceans. Military forces from 25 allied nations joined with the United States in the exercise. Midway’s part, while only a small portion of the overall exercise, was essential to mine warfare training.

“Midway delivered a unique training opportunity for RIMPAC,” said Len Santiago, Midway’s chief engineer. “The best training evolutions are those that provide real environments, especially underwater. Being located in the home of 3rd Fleet and multiple warfare commands in San Diego, Midway is a great training target for young underwater warriors.”

After three days of training with Midway, the mine warfare portion of RIMPAC was deemed a success.

“It was very important to work together and train together and I was glad to be on this exercise,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Kenshin Kawashima, from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Mine Warfare Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team. “We all come from different backgrounds, cultures and ways of training, but we have common ground to protect our countries and allies.”

Japanese Navy diver, Petty Officer Kenshin Kawashima.

RIMPAC’s senior staffs from several partner nations also visited Midway for a briefing in the spring when they were in San Diego for the exercise’s planning conference.

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