The US Navy has used the multi-national RIMPAC 2012 exercise to end its two-year moratorium on sinking discarded warships for live-fire target practice. The ban on the so-called ‘sinkex’ on environmental and cost grounds ended in explosive fashion with the sinking of three former US Military Sealift Command vessels during the naval exercises that take place in and around the Hawaiian Islands every two years.
The ex-USNS Concord and ex-USNS Kilauea were each sunk by a single Mk.48 torpedo fired from the Royal Canadian Navy submarine, HMCS Victoria and the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins class submarine, HMAS Farncomb, respectively. The ex-USNS Niagara Falls was targeted by bombs and other ordnance.
This year’s RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) event, the 23rd to be hosted by the Commander of the US Pacific Fleet since 1971, ran from 29 June to 3 August and involved 22 nations, including Russia for the first time. Taking part were 42 warships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel.