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Exercise RIMPAC

The largest maritime exercise

New Zealand is one of the founding nations of Exercise Rim of the Pacific - RIMPAC - the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise.

Hosted by the United States – in particular, the US Third Fleet - and lately based every even-numbered year in Hawaii and San Diego, Exercise RIMPAC has been running since 1971 and can involve up to 30 countries, 50 ships and 25,000 personnel on land, sea and in the air.

The purpose of RIMPAC is to engage in mutual, large-scale military exercises to foster familiarity, trust, inter-operability, and collective strength among Pacific nations. It means the military forces of friendly nations get used to working together.

In 2018 New Zealand’s contingent included an air surveillance and reconnaissance force including two P-3K2 Orion aircraft, the frigate HMNZS Te Mana, specialist divers, and hydrographers from HMNZS Matataua,  logistics, and support elements, and personnel from the Navy, Army, and Air Force.

Orion deploys a sonar bouy.

Orion deploys a sonar bouy during Exercise Rimpac

In this environment, New Zealand assets and personnel test themselves alongside some of the best in the world, conducting missions that engage in a combination of warfare scenarios, hunting and tracking submarines, and working with the maritime patrol community.

The scale of the activity means live-firing of guns, torpedoes, and missiles can be carried out in a controlled environment, providing valuable insight into our capability. The exercise is also a sharing of cultures. All ships host open days and functions for the participating nations, and there is a hotly contested sports competition among nations.