Thirty nations and 40 ships are participating in this summer's RIMPAC exercise in Hawaii

U.S. and Indonesian Marines arm wrestle during Exercise Rim of Pacific at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 15, 2018. (Stars and Stripes)

Forty ships from nearly 30 nations are scheduled to participate in exercise Rim of the Pacific in and around the Hawaiian Islands this summer, the Navy said in a news release Tuesday.

The biennial RIMPAC exercise, touted by the U.S. Navy as the largest international maritime exercise in the world, has been held 29 times since it began in 1971.

The training begins on June 26th and lasts until August 2nd. According to the Navy, three submarines, 14 land-based forces, more than 150 aircraft and about 25,000 troops will be involved.

This year's exercise includes military forces from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The chief of U.S. 3rd Fleet will serve as the Combined Task Force commander for the exercise.

Vice Admiral Michael Boyle is currently commander of the San Diego-based 3rd Fleet.

Vice Admiral John Wade, who previously led the task force responsible for defueling the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawaii, was nominated to replace Boyle.

Commodore Alberto Guerrero of the Chilean Navy will serve as deputy commander of the Combined Task Force.

Rear Admiral Kazushi Yokota of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force will serve as vice commander.

The expected participation in this year's exercise is an increase from the 26 nations and 38 ships that participated in the exercises in 2022.

The coronavirus pandemic drastically curtailed the exercise in 2020, with only Australia, Brunei, Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and the United States joining. The exercise lasted only two weeks and all events took place at sea.

China first participated in 2014 and rejoined in 2016.

It was rebuffed in 2018 over Beijing's construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea by dredging small coral atolls with sand, which were then militarized with aircraft hangars and runways.

Vietnam first joined RIMPAC in 2018 but has not returned since.

Chinese officers participating in exercise Rim of the Pacific line up in front of the guided-missile destroyer Xian, July 8, 2016, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.  They are joined by two US Navy officers who served as translators for visiting reporters.

Chinese officers participating in Exercise Rim of the Pacific line up in front of the guided-missile destroyer Xian, July 8, 2016, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. They are joined by two US Navy officers who acted as translators for the reporters. (Wyatt Olson/Stars and Stripes)

The Navy did not provide details about the exercises that will take place this summer.

The training will “strengthen our collective forces and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the press release said.

The exercise will improve the joint force's ability to “deter and deter major power aggression in all conflict areas and at all levels of conflict,” the press release said.

Previous RIMPAC events have included sinking of ships at sea with missiles, amphibious landings and the first landing of a Marine Corps Osprey aircraft on an Australian ship.

Anna Harden

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