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News | July 4, 2006

RIMPAC Maritime Operations to Continue Without Mid-Frequency Active Sonar

By Navy Office of Information Navy Office of Information

U.S. District Court Judge issued a temporary restraining order July 3 barring the use of mid-frequency active sonar during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2006 multinational exercise. 

The exercise, involving more than 19,000 Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Soldiers and Coast Guardsmen, along with 35 surface ships, six submarines, 160 tactical aircraft, and amphibious forces, will continue without mid-frequency active sonar.

"Exercise participants will attempt to find submarines by listening with passive sonar and visually searching with aircraft and from surface ships," said Vice Adm. Barry Costello, commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet. "However, to be effective - to survive, to fight, and to win - Sailors must be proficient at detecting submarines using active sonar from ships, helicopters, airplanes and submarines. 

"Preventing ships, helicopters, airplanes and submarines from actively hunting submarines with mid-frequency active sonar seriously compromises the realism of the exercise and degrades the Sailors' training," Costello said. "This has the potential to increase risk to our naval forces when they are in harm's way."

Anti-submarine warfare is a vital joint requirement, but a uniquely Navy core war-fighting competency. It is the U.S. Pacific Fleet's top war-fighting priority. 

"Being able to exercise and operate our active sonars is key to our proficiency in that critical warfare area," said Adm. Gary Roughead, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. 

The exercise is also designed to enhance the participants' warfighting skills to include fighting terrorism, countering weapons of mass destruction, combating piracy and providing humanitarian assistance. 

The coalition force will exercise air defense, surface warfare, command and control, boarding, missile and gunnery skills and choke point transit exercises. 

This year's exercise is the 20th in a series of RIMPAC exercises conducted periodically since 1971. RIMPAC is intended to enhance the tactical proficiency of participating units in a wide array of combined operations at sea. By enhancing interoperability, RIMPAC helps to promote stability in the Pacific Rim region to the benefit of all participating nations.