Some 25,000 military personnel from 22 nations have converged on Hawaii to kick off Rim of the Pacific 2012, the world’s largest display of naval exercises.
Big Islanders can expect to hear low-flying aircraft and possibly see ships off the island’s coasts during the exercises that officially began Friday, said U.S. Navy Third Fleet Public Affairs Office Lt. Cmdr. Donnell Evans. He was unable to provide any specifics, but noted that increased activity will be evident, including at Big Island airports.
Currently, the RIMPAC exercises have no convoys planned for Big Island roads, Evans said. If any changes are expected, Evans said RIMPAC will notify the public.
“There may be increased activity in the area and people may hear some jets flying over,” he explained. “If we are going to have an impact, we will be mindful of the public.”
Rob McElroy, U.S. Army Garrison Pohakuloa public affairs officer, was unable to be reached Friday for further information regarding Pohakuloa Training Area’s involvement in RIMPAC. However, in a Wednesday prepared statement, McElroy said residents will hear increased aircraft noise over the area.
“Navy fighter aircraft began training over PTA on June 24 and will continue until July 1,” reads McElroy’s statement. “They will also train from July 7-9.”
In the past, West Hawaii residents have reported being alarmed by jet flyovers at relatively low altitude, or in routes not typically prescribed by the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial flights. Evans said the FAA does approve different flight paths for military aircraft, and those paths could be low-level for the RIMPAC exercises.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet hostsRIMPAC, which take place every two years in Hawaii and its surrounding waters. The exercises date to 1971 but have expanded in recent years. Eight nations took part in 2006, 10 in 2008 and 14 in 2010.
The 22 participating nations include the United States, Australia, India and the United Kingdom. Some 42 ships, six submarines and more than 200 aircraft will be in the islands.
The theme of RIMPAC 2012 is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners,” according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet. RIMPAC is slated to end Aug. 3.
The participating forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate their flexibility. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex war-fighting, according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The training will include amphibious operations and gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as counterpiracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations, according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
All noise abatement complaints should be directed to the RIMPAC Command Information Bureau at 472-0239. For more information about RIMPAC, visit www.cpf.navy.mil/rimpac.