Live fire from aircraft, a submarine and land assets participating in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise sank the ex-USS Racine (LST-1191) July 12 in waters 15,000 feet deep and 55 nautical miles north of Kauai, Hawaii.
CAPTION: A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force team fire a surface-to-ship missile from Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, at ex-USS Racine positioned at sea, during Exercise RIMPAC. US Army photo by Captain Rachael Jeffcoat.
Units from Australia, Japan and the US participated in the sinking exercise (SINKEX), which provided them the opportunity to gain proficiency in tactics, targeting and live firing against a surface target at sea.
The SINKEX featured live firing of surface-to-ship missiles by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and a Naval Strike Missile (NSM) from a launcher on the back of a palletised load system (PLS) by the US Army.
This year was also the first time a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft participated in a SINKEX during RIMPAC – expected to fire Harpoon missiles and torpedoes.
Commander US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Phil Davidson said the allies demonstrated the lethality and adaptability of their joint forces in the maritime environment.
“As naval forces drive our enemies into the littorals, army forces can also strike them,” Admiral Davidson said.
“Conversely, when the army drives our enemies out to sea, naval firepower can do the same.”
Deputy commander RIMPAC Combined Task Force Royal Canadian Navy Rear Admiral Bob Auchterlonie said that with numerous warships, allied submarines, multiple strike aircraft and multi-domain land forces participating, the SINKEX was an extremely valuable part of RIMPAC.
“SINKEXs are an important way for us to test our weapons and weapon systems in a way that provides our ships’ companies, our submariners, our aircrews, and our land forces with the most realistic training possible,” Rear Admiral Auchterlonie said.
Former US Navy vessels used in SINKEXs – referred to as hulks – are prepared in strict compliance with regulations prescribed and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency under a general permit the US Navy holds pursuant to the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act.
Each SINKEX is required to sink the hulk in at least 1000 fathoms (6000 feet) of water and at least 50 nautical miles from land.
Surveys are conducted to ensure that people and marine mammals are not in an area where they could be harmed during the event.
Before the vessel is transported for participation in a SINKEX, each vessel is put through a rigorous cleaning process, including the removal of all polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), transformers and large capacitors, all small capacitors to the greatest extent practical, trash, floatable materials, mercury or fluorocarbon-containing materials and readily detachable solid PCB items.
Petroleum is also cleaned from tanks, piping and reservoirs.
Ex-USS Racine was the second ship to bear the name of the Wisconsin city. The ship was the 13th of 20 ships of the improved Newport-class of Landing Ship, Tank (LST) built to replace the traditional LSTs of World War II.
Throughout her 22 years of service, the ship conducted several Western Pacific deployments including one during the Vietnam War where she provided troop and material transport.