The world's largest international maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016, has successfully concluded in the waters surrounding Southern California, US.

During RIMPAC, multifaceted mine countermeasures training was held between the US Navy and the participating nations for four weeks.

The partner nations also practised mine hunting, identification, clearance and disposal operations of mines.

"Access to the seas and water ways is critical for economic productivity and a nation’s ability to sustain themselves."

The training exercise witnessed more than 300 flight hours with an excess of 200 hours of Marine Mammal System operations, 34 helicopter cast and recovery operations, 78 operational dives, and 77 autonomous underwater vehicle evolutions.

Task Force 177 battle staff director commander David Burke said: “This has been a very robust operation.

“Access to the seas and water ways is critical for economic productivity and a nation’s ability to sustain themselves.

“It is important to be able to open them up in the event they are closed as a result of a mine warfare threat. What was great about this exercise is that the forces of multiple nations came together to execute a series of very complicated evolutions and did so in a seamless and timely manner.”

The US Navy’s amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) joined forces with the partner nations’ underwater mine countermeasure fleet and was used as an afloat forward staging base.

Additionally, the MH-53 Sea Dragon minesweeping helicopters were deployed to Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 14 to stage deck landing qualifications on Pearl Harbor’s flight deck, while Marine Mammal Systems were embarked on aboard the LSD platform for the first time.

The 25th biennial RIMPAC exercise saw participation from the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, German Armed Forces, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Mexican Navy and Chilean Navy along with more than 200 aircraft, 45 ships, five submarines, and 25,000 service members.

Image: US personnel leap from an MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter during mine countermeasures training. Photo: courtesy of US Navy/MC2 Bryan Jackson.