Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 participated in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 exercise this summer alongside 26 other allied forces in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

RIMPAC is the world’s largest biennial international maritime warfare exercise and this RIMPAC will mark its 26th occurrence.

The exercise began in 1971 as a way to solidify the protection and security of the world’s oceans. Since RIMPAC’s inception, the United States, Australia and Canada have participated in every exercise. In 2010, there were 14 participating entities and by 2018, the number grew to 26.

RIMPAC 2018 consisted of 47 surface ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel. VP-16 was one of the U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon squadrons that worked with other maritime patrol aircraft from countries to include Australia, Canada, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. VP-16 also worked with a number of other participating nations’ surface ships and aircraft.

The detachment consisted of three combat aircrews as well as a full maintenance detachment to participate in the exercise. The detachment executed 28 flights, 24 of which were anti-submarine warfare missions. Over 17 fly days, VP-16’s RIMPAC detachment flew 150 flight hours, with approximately 45 hours of subsurface contact while successfully launching three torpedoes and one Harpoon. Throughout the month of July, 77 VP-16 personnel participated in RIMPAC.

While the primary mission of the P-8A is long-range anti-submarine warfare, the launch of the Harpoon demonstrates another mission set the P-8 is capable of: anti-surface warfare. The AGM-84D Harpoon is an anti-ship cruise missile designed to be launched from an aircraft.

On July 14, VP-16’s P-8 along with VP-47 set out on a sinking exercise (SINKEX) where the aircraft launched a Harpoon to demonstrate their capability and interoperability with RIMPAC participants. The target was a decommissioned ship, the former USS Racine.

In addition to the efforts of the maritime patrol squadrons, F-18s, submarines, helicopters and other naval ships were also involved in the SINKEX and the ultimate sinking of the ship. The mission was a success with the Harpoon hitting the target.

VP-16’s Lt. Adam Baker was the mission commander for the flight and stated that the, “exercise was a great chance to for both the crew and maintenance teams to work with the Harpoon and get hands on experience.”

VP-16’s Commanding Officer Cmdr. Troy Tartaglia was impressed with the exercise stating, “this is an example that, not only are our crews and maintenance teams able to accomplish their mission, but they were able to do so working with other platforms and countries, a core goal of RIMPAC itself, making this exercise a undeniable success.”

VP-16’s successful Harpoon shot continues to show just how capable the U.S. Navy’s Maritime Patrol community is, both in its own primary missions and in combined operations.

Working with allied nations and strengthening relationships is a major goal of RIMPAC, as evidenced by the motto, “Capable Adaptive Partners.”

“You don’t know what the global political climate will be in the next five years,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sergio Ibarra, VP-16’s assistant officer in charge during the exercise.

“RIMPAC is designed to encompass all like-minded, willing partner nations in order to build relationships and friendships to shape our future climate.”

VP-16 benefitted greatly from the exercise in ways beyond just flight hours and crew qualifications. Working side-by-side with all the various nations demonstrates worldwide teamwork.

The P-8A Poseidon continues to be a dominant force in naval aviation and can be expected to participate in future RIMPAC exercises.