October 2021 marks 50 years since the navies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States took part in the first Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC). The biennial, US-led exercise is held in Hawaii and in the waters off Southern California. Military forces from nations circling the Pacific Rim and beyond are invited to participate in training and war game exercises. The vast array of activities completed during an exercise include gunnery and missile firings, anti-submarine and air defence exercises, mine clearance operations, and amphibious landings. For all participants, RIMPAC offers an opportunity to strengthen maritime partnerships, enhance interoperability, and sharpen capabilities across a range of environments. In its 50 year history, 28 countries have participated in 27 RIMPAC exercises. Australia joins the US and Canada as one of only three nations to have participated in every exercise.
The first RIMPAC exercises received relatively little media attention, quietly taking place with little fanfare. By the mid-1980s, however, as the span of operations continued to increase and the number of participating personnel often reached 50,000, the exercise regularly received multi-page spreads in Navy News. Today, RIMPAC is the world’s largest maritime warfare exercise and is, arguably, the most highly sought after deployment among Royal Australian Navy (RAN) personnel.RIMPAC Semaphore