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Senator Schatz Meets with Admiral Harris at RIMPAC

Yesterday, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) lead a congressional delegation to the Asia Pacific to participate in high-level meetings with leaders in Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. Before heading to Asia yesterday, the delegation toured the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) headquarters at Camp Smith and met with Admiral Harry Harris, PACOM commander.

USS America pulls into Pearl Harbor

USS America pulls into Pearl Harbor

Following a briefing with Admiral Harris, the delegation boarded the USS AMERICA.  While onboard, the group toured the ship, observed the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise, and met with sailors serving aboard the USS AMERICA.

In addition to Schatz, members of the delegation include U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and U.S. Representatives Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), and Donna Edwards (D-Md.).

RIMPAC 2012 to Begin on June 29th

Twenty-two nations, 42 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise scheduled June 29 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

A picture I took when the US NAVY sent me out to the USS Ronald Reagan Aircraft Carrier.
https://damontucker.com/2011/02/05/happy-birthday-ronald-reagan-inside-the-ronald-reagan-room/dscn4637-3/

The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.

Hosted by U.S. Pacific Fleet, and led by Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman, commander of the U.S. Third Fleet (C3F), RIMPAC 2012 marks the first time non-U.S. officers will command components of the combined task force during the exercise. Commodore Stuart Mayer of the Royal Australian Navy will command the Maritime Component and Brig. Gen. Michael Hood of the Royal Canadian Air Force will command the Air Component. Other key leaders of the multinational force include Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Ron Lloyd, deputy commander of the Combined Task Force (CTF), and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Rear Adm. Fumiyuki Kitagawa, vice commander of the CTF.

The theme of RIMPAC 2012 is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.” The participating nations and forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training syllabus includes amphibious operations; gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises as well as counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations.

RIMPAC 2012 will feature the first demonstration of a U.S. Navy “Great Green Fleet,” during which U.S. surface combatants and carrier-based aircraft will test, evaluate and demonstrate the cross-platform utility and functionality of biofuels. This demonstration will also incorporate prototype energy efficiency initiatives such as solid state lighting, on-line gas turbine waterwash and energy management tools.

This year’s exercise includes units or personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Details of RIMPAC activities and imagery are available at http://www.cpf.navy.mil/rimpac.

C-17’s and F-16’s… This Isn’t Your Typical Bingo Game

What a great weekend I had over on Oahu.  I got to do some things that I’m sure I’ll probably never get another chance in the world to do again and I’m very thankful to the RIMPAC Countries that are participating in the exercises this year.

On Friday, I got to fly in an C-17 Military Transport jet!

We began the morning at Hickam Air Force Base at 4:45 AM so that we could be briefed on exactly what we were going to be doing and to learn about the general features of the plane we would be flying in.

We then gathered on a bus where we took a short ride out to the airfield.

We arrived at one of the two C-17’s and they brought us inside where we had some photo opportunities of the inside of the plane before taking off.

During the briefing, they told us that they would be flying over the Big Island and simulating a drop of supplies.

We took our places in our chairs and then settled in for the flight to the Big Island.

Once we got over the Big Island, the C-17 opened the back of it’s body open and we were flying with it just wide open… it was a rather scary feeling and I was glad that I was firmly planted in my seat with seat belt strapped as tight as I could make it.

Here’s a short clip of the back section opening up in mid-air.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Brc-OgHxNYg&hl=en_US&fs=1]

So when we got to the “drop zone” which was basically this area on top of the Big Island…

… They launched the stuff out the back and here is a quick clip of that!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dFx2opX57g&hl=en_US&fs=1]

They closed up the back of the plane and then prepared for a quick touch down in Kona.  What they didn’t tell me… was that I was going to be allowed in the cockpit of the plane WHEN IT LANDED IN KONA!

It was just me, the two pilots…

… and Ian Kitiyama!

We landed in Kona and although I was back on the Big Island.. this little trip was only half over!  Here is the landing from my vantage point in the cockpit.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvXsxfK0WEI&hl=en_US&fs=1]

They opened up the back of the plane once we were on the ground, but we had to stay in the plane so this is when we had our “sack lunches” that we paid $4.25 for.

After being on the ground for about 15- 20 minutes, we took our places back in our chairs and prepared to return home.

Well about half way back to Oahu, they opened up the back of the plane and all of a sudden out of nowhere, came four F-16’s fighter jets that were there to either simulate an attack or to simulate what would happen if the plane was being attacked upon.

Here’s a short clip of what that felt like:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9skLiik4WP8&hl=en_US&fs=1]

Well after being up in the air for about 3 hours in total both going to Kona and returning to Hickam, I knew that I had an amazing experience that will live with me for the rest of  my life!

We got back on the bus from the airfield and returned to the Hickam Squadron Command post.

They led us back to their little courtyard where we had the opportunity to ask questions of the crew about what just took place and a little further time to talk to the folks that actually flew the planes and participated in the exercise.

When all was said and done, they gave us the biographies of those that were done and they gave us this “coin” as a token of appreciation:

Psst… good to finally meet you in person Justin!

Click on the pictures below or above for a larger view: