Monday marked the start of the world’s largest international naval exercise off the coast of Hawaii. RIMPAC 2020 is a large multi-national biennial exercise hosted by the United States. The US Navy, are joined in the exercise by warships, aircraft, and submarines from the Pacific Rim nations. RIMPAC promotes regional stability, and interoperability among the navies. The COVID-19 pandemic is having an effect on the exercise this year. All of the exercise will be held at sea. All visiting ships needing to make logistical stopovers at Pearl Harbor prior to the exercise have done so. No personnel were permitted to leave their respective ships.
The number of nations sending warships to attend is less than fifty percent than in 2018. Predictably China is not taking part this year, and Taiwan was not extended an invite. Many close US allies in the region, and around the world are participating though. South Korea, Canada, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, New Zealand, Brunei and France have all sent ships to Hawaii for RIMPAC 2020.
Current world events will keep the attention off of RIMPAC this year, which is somewhat ironic given the growing Sino-US tensions in the Western Pacific, and the continuing importance of the entire Pacific region. And although this year’s exercise is not as large as normal, it will focus primarily on warfighting. “This year we will focus solely on warfighting in the maritime domain, to include anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and maritime interdiction operations, as well as some robust live-fire events,” said Vice Adm. Scott Conn, commander of U.S. Navy 3rd Fleet.