Three international service members and several United States Naval Academy midshipmen joined the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) to participate in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2010, the world's largest multinational maritime exercise, June 23 - Aug 1.
Two members of the Royal Australian Navy and one member of the Columbian Armada integrated with the Hopper crew as the ship engaged in several RIMPAC exercises, including a sinking exercise (SINKEX), surface-to-air missile exercise (SAMEX) and a 808-472-0136 Naval Surface Firing Support “Rodeo” exercise (NSFS Rodeo) with other participating naval ships.
"There's a lot of experience to be gained for the people onboard and their watch stations," said Cmdr. Kevin Melody, Hopper's commanding officer. "Another thing RIMPAC allows us to do is it let's us interact with our friends and allies around the Pacific region. It's about working together synergistically and taking the good thing that each of us brings to the table and creating something better as a whole."
More than 30 naval ships from seven allied nations joined the RIMPAC 2010, which is currently taking place in the waters off the Hawaiian Islands.
CMDCM (SW/FMF/AW) Jay Stuckey, Hopper's command master chief, said that the ship's crew and the international service members both learned a lot from each other.
"I think the benefits of having the Australian and the Colombians here on this ship is that they are feeding my youth: the junior enlisted, junior officers, the midshipmen and my Chiefs," said Stuckey. "They know that they are the future."
During the SINKEX, eight naval vessels from the United States, Japan, France, Canada and Australia took turns shooting their gun systems at a decommissioned ship. Royal Australian Navy Midshipman Chris Abbott was on Hopper's flight deck when he witnessed the Australian Anzac-class frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFGH 152) score hits on the decommissioned Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship ex-New Orleans (LPH 11).
"To actually see something like that, to have that experience where there's an expendable craft that's used as a target, that's outstanding," said Abbot. "To experience it first hand is amazing.”
The goal of the SINKEX training exercise was for the crew to gain proficiency in tactics, targeting and live-firing against targets.
"It made me exceptionally proud to see,” said Abbott, in reference to the SINKEX. “To be able to hit the target is a good moment, and it really represented how efficient we are as a small navy. It's a great show of force from everyone.”
Abbott, who been taking duties as a conning officer aboard Hopper since the beginning of RIMPAC, said that he was impressed at how friendly the crew was.
"I think the American people that I've met have been great," said Abbott. "The officers and enlisted alike have been really friendly. Everyone says "good morning."
RIMPAC 2010 is a biennial event designed to strengthen regional partnerships and improve multinational interoperability. This marks the 22nd exercise in the series since the first RIMPAC exercise began in 1971.