The highlight of the American-led Rim of the Pacific exercises (other than the ones that involve sinking vessels) is the international parade of ships. Held at the conclusion of each RIMPAC, the parade is a sweeping view of ships from 25 nations across the Pacific Rim. This year more than 50 naval vessels participate in the exercise, including 46 surface ships and five submarines.
First held in 1971, RIMPAC happens every two years off the Hawaiian islands. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th iteration of the exercises. Each year it gets a little bit bigger, although at this point the naval exercises may be limited by the sheer number of ships Pearl Harbor can accommodate. This year’s RIMPAC parade was led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. At 1,092 feet long and 100,000 tons, Vinson really ties the fleet together.
One of the first surface ships that steams into view is USS Lake Erie. A Ticonderoga-class guided missile destroyer commissioned in the 1980s, Lake Erie was built as an anti-air/anti-surface warfare ship. Its Aegis Combat System, AN/SPY-1 radar, and 122 vertical launch missile silos were built to repel mass attacks of Soviet bombers against U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. Lake Erie is one of several cruisers and destroyers outfitted to shoot down incoming ballistic missiles.
There are other ships of note, and this video really highlights the smaller navies involved in this year's exercises. One example is KRI , a guided missile frigate of the Indonesian Navy. Martadinata is a new ship commissioned in 2017, and is equipped with a 76-millimeter gun, Mica surface-to-air missiles, and Exocet anti-ship missiles.
Five submarines are participating in RIMPAC, but authorities are being a little cagey about which ones. The only publicly acknowledged sub is the South Korean submarine ROKS Park Wi, pictured here. Park Wi is a Type 209 submarine designed and built in Kiel, Germany in the mid-1990s. The Korean submarine can dive to a maximum depth of 1,049 feet, has eight bow-mounted torpedo tubes, and can launch heavyweight anti-submarine and anti-ship torpedoes, lay mines, and launch Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
Next up is KD Leiku, a frigate of the Royal Malaysian Navy. Leiku was built in Glasgow, Scotland by Yarrow, and are designed to patrol Malaysia’s vast archipelago--and a little farther. Leiku and her sister ship, Jebat, displace 1,845 tons, carry Seawolf anti-air missiles, and eight Exocet anti-ship missiles.