Australian Navy Sinks US Warship With Harpoon Missiles At RIMPAC

The Australian Navy’s Anzac Class frigate HMAS Stuart successfully fired two Harpoon missiles and coordinated the missile firings of three other ships and sank a decommissioned US warship during the Rim of The Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. 

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The RIMPAC exercise is the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, held biennially around the American islands of Hawaii. This year it was held from 17th August to 30th August, which involved 5,300 personnel from 10 participant nations.

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According to reports, the Australian Navy’s Anzac Class frigate HMAS Stuart successfully fired two Harpoon missiles and coordinated the missile firings of three other ships during one of RIMPAC’s best-known serials called the SINKEX, where participants sink a decommissioned warship.


HMAS Stuart fires a Harpoon missile off the coast of Hawaii during Exercise Rim of the Pacific. Photo: Leading Seaman Christopher Szumlanski

The two-week exercise was joined by Navies of 10 countries with 22 surface ships and one submarine. The participating countries included Australia, Brunei, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore and the United States.

The Australian Navy’s two MH-60R helicopters also fired Hellfire missiles during training exercises on 29th August. The helicopters embarked at HMAS Hobart and Arunta. Lieutenant Naomi Muir, a gunnery officer deployed aboard the HMAS Stuart, emphasized on the importance of live-fire exercises.

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“Simulation is a critical part of our training but there is nothing better than to conduct live-fire training to ensure our systems work effectively with other nations, and that our people know how to use them,” Muir said.

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Able Seaman (Electronics Technician Callum Fox, the Fire Control Officer deployed on Stuart, is responsible for pushing the button that launches the missile. Able Seaman Fox stated that Stuart had trained to fire the missile since leaving Australia in July.

“Events like these allow us to prove that we are capable of high-end warfare with allied nations. They also allow us to prove our systems and training, and prove to the Australian Government and public that we are a professional and capable navy,” he said.

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The RIMPAC-2020 was held entirely at sea due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and included 53 replenishments-at-sea and the distribution of 101 pallets of cargo. More than 16,000 small-arms rounds were shot, with more than 1,000 large-caliber weapons fired and 13 missiles launched during the exercise.

“Our formidable team of capable, adaptive partners has spent the last two weeks demonstrating that we have the resolve and ability to operate together in these challenging times,” Vice Adm. Scott Conn, commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet, said.

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This year also marks another feat for the Australian Navy, when a first non-U.S. female in uniform- Capt. Phillipa Hay of the RAN led a RIMPAC task force of more than 2,500 sailors.

The exercises were conducted at a key point when tensions with the PRC have peaked in recent months due to its aggression in the China seas, also sending a strong message to Beijing, demonstrating the might of the new informal alliance against China.

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