Ships and submarines participating in exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 sail in formation, July 27, in the waters around the Hawaiian islands. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith Devinney)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM - The world's largest international maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), officially concluded Aug 3.

The 23rd exercise in the biennial RIMPAC series, this year's version involved 22 nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, and more than 200 aircraft that operated in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The exercise is designed to foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans.

Part of that cooperation involved more than 25,000 personnel working together from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

"It is a testament to the power of RIMPAC that we can bring a record number of nations together and then conduct complex and purposeful training in challenging scenarios like humanitarian assistance operations," said Adm. Cecil Haney, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. "The partnerships, cooperation and camaraderie forged during this exercise are essential to the promotion of peace in the Pacific region and will be invaluable during future contingencies, wherever and whenever they might be."

RIMPAC 2012 demonstrated a variety of exercise firsts, including the first time non-U.S. officers commanded components of the combined task force during the exercise. Commodore Stuart Mayer of the Royal Australian Navy commanded the Maritime Component and Brig. Gen. Michael Hood of the Royal Canadian Air Force commanded the Air Component. Other key leaders of the multinational force included 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.

"I am truly pleased with what we have achieved as part of this exercise," said Rear Adm. Ron Lloyd, the Deputy Combined Task Force Commander. "The challenging scenarios allowed Canadians and our Pacific Rim partners to develop the skills we will need to work successfully with each other, wherever we may be called upon to deploy," said Lloyd.

The U.S. Navy also demonstrated its "Great Green Fleet" with surface combatants and aircraft, functioning on biofuel blends for the first time in an operation. The demonstration highlighted the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus' energy goals to reduce the Department of Navy's (DON's) consumption of energy, decrease its reliance on foreign sources of oil, and significantly increase its use of alternative energy.

"If you talk to anyone who lives within the rim of the Pacific they will tell you, it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when the next natural disaster or crisis may affect one of the countries," said Beaman. "We (RIMPAC participants) are forming a team. In the event of the next crisis or disaster, this team will have worked with each other and understand the processes that a coalition will have to go through in order to form and be able to accomplish whatever mission we may be asked to do."

For the first time during RIMPAC, the exercise featured a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) event that facilitated training and certification for expeditionary forces to respond to foreign disasters as a Crisis Response Adaptive Force Package. Also conducted were three SINKEXS, multi-force Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) training, live-fire exercises , surface-to-air engagements, air-to-air missile engagements, surface-to-surface engagements, amphibious assaults, vessel boardings, explosive ordnance disposal, diving, salvage operations, conducted air-to-air refuelings and mine clearance operations.

"Watching this 22-nation coalition come together, each with their own individual training goals and objectives; watching the team put a plan together that accounted for each one of those training goals and objectives, and then for the last three weeks watching it all unfold; for me, that will be a lasting memory," said Beaman.