RIMPAC 2014: White in a sea of gray

The Coast Guard Cutter Waesche recently arrived in Pearl Harbor to participate in the 24th occurance of Rim of The Pacific. RIMPAC is the largest multi-national maritime exercise in the world. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Steven Youde.

The Coast Guard Cutter Waesche recently arrived in Pearl Harbor to participate in the 24th occurance of Rim of The Pacific. RIMPAC is the largest multi-national maritime exercise in the world. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Steven Youde.

Written by Petty Officer 3rd Manda Emery

Rows upon rows of warships line the piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickham for the Rim of the Pacific 2014 exercises, the largest multinational maritime exercise in the world. Amongst the 22 nations, 49 surface ships and six submarines participating in RIMPAC, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche’s white hull stands out in a sea of gray.

The cutter Waesche is a 418-foot long national security cutter with a top speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles and a permanent crew of 120. Homeported in Alameda, Calif., Waesche is the second of eight planned national security cutters and is the only Coast Guard cutter participating in RIMPAC.

Waesche’s participation in RIMPAC 2014 will highlight the Coast Guard’s unique capabilities and relationships with Department of Defense entities and international partners along the Pacific Rim. It will also serve as a unique, large-scale training opportunity that will provide realistic training in support of a wide range of Coast Guard missions, including search and rescue, maritime interdiction, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and national defense missions.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Chad Brown, a gunner's mate aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche shows ammunition to Able Seaman Benjamin Sklarchuk, a marine engineering mechanic onboard the HMCS Calgary, during a multi-ship live-fire gun exercise. Sklarchuk is

Petty Officer 2nd Class Chad Brown, a gunner’s mate aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche shows ammunition to Able Seaman Benjamin Sklarchuk, a marine engineering mechanic onboard the HMCS Calgary, during a multi-ship live-fire gun exercise.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Manda Emery.

While this is not the first appearance of a national security cutter at RIMPAC, Waesche will play a more significant role than ever before. As the commander of Combined Task Force 175, Waesche will lead a multinational fleet of naval vessels through a wide array of exercise and scenarios. Sailing with Waesche will be vessels from China, Brunei, Mexico, France and the U.S.

“RIMPAC 2014 is providing unique experiences for the sailors aboard Waesche,” said Capt. John McKinley, Waeshe’s commanding officer. “We have the unique opportunity of performing maritime security operations alongside partner nations in an effort to promote international maritime cooperation through operational exercises, cross-deck training, recreational events and sports competitions.”

With RIMPAC a full week into its first phase, or harbor phase, Waesche crewmembers have participated in numerous team-building events with U.S. and foreign sailors such as athletic tournaments and morale events. Ships’ crews and officers have also been busy finalizing plans for the upcoming at-sea evolutions.

“I think the in-port phase is important because it helps you get to know your peers,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jesus Santiago, an operations specialist aboard Waesche. “It also it helps create a bond or maybe even a little friendly competition so everybody is more engaged, more interested, more determined to do good and get things done later when we’re out there doing the actual exercises.”

Coast Guard men and women stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche participate in a volleyball tournament against Sailors from USS Michael Murphy during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Manda Emery.

Coast Guard men and women stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche participate in a volleyball tournament against Sailors from USS Michael Murphy during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Manda Emery.

The theme of RIMPAC is “Capable, Adaptive Partners” and the harbor phase is instrumental in opening the doors of interaction and relationships before the participants get underway to conduct operational exercises.

“It’s been fun to interact with all the other countries that are out here,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Mattox, a machinery technician aboard Waesche. “You see the other sailors out there in town and everyone is incredibly nice. Participating in all the activities has been a great experience. I had the opportunity to go snorkeling the other day and while there, I was able to interact with the other guests and countries who also attended.”

This year marks the 24th RIMPAC exercise, the largest since its inception in 1971 and includes more than 25,000 participants.

“We’re going to see each other out on the water and to get to know them a little beforehand is helpful,” said Mattox. “The group sail from San Diego provided an opportunity for crew members to experience underway life aboard other warships. We even hosted sailors from both Canada and Chile. We’ve been able to observe how they interact with each other, to speak with them about their day-to-day operations and even provide training on Coast Guard operations.”

RIMPAC is a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.

Lt. Cmdr. Dorothy Hernaez, the operations officer aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, speaks with fellow operations officers of the combined task force during a meeting on board the cutter Waesche in preparation for the underway portion of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Manda Emery.

Lt. Cmdr. Dorothy Hernaez, the operations officer aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, speaks with fellow operations officers of the combined task force during a meeting on board the cutter Waesche in preparation for the underway portion of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Manda Emery.

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