USS INDEPENDENCE, At Sea – Special operations forces from the U.S., the Republic of Korea and Peru conducted a covert training mission aboard the littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.
The two-day scenario provided realistic and relevant training for both the special forces teams and the ship’s crew.
Cmdr. Joseph “Joe” A. Gagliano, Independence commanding officer, said his crew and the special forces teams gained invaluable experience from the training.
“This is the first time an Independence-class ship has participated in a RIMPAC exercise,” he said. “Coming together to do these exercises at RIMPAC every two years is a good way to forge relationships, learn from each other, learn how each of our navies do business and then learn a way to operate.”
The training mission kicked off when numerous helicopters from the U.S. Navy, Army and Marine Corps offloaded special forces teams onto the flight deck of the Independence. Before long, the spacious mission bay of the Independence was filled with elite fighters and a special forces canine.
A first-in-class overhead hoist lifted an 11-meter rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) off the deck, extended it outboard through the mission bay doors, and lowered it into the Pacific Ocean to launch a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team.
A unique eight-wheeled Mobicon straddle-lift carrier then maneuvered about the mission bay to steer a second 11-meter RHIB into position under the hoist and launch a different VBSS team.
Once all the players were ready, the RHIBs moved into position.
The special forces teams, organized by country, descended into the speed boats, sped off and circled back around. They then moved into place and threw a grappling hook aboard the ship to climb up.
Aircrew members assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6 readied two MH-60S Seahawk helos in the hangar bay, later assisting the special forces teams with completing their mission.
At evening, each special forces team covertly departed Independence under the glow of red lights to continue the next segment of their training mission.
Gagliano said the training mission demonstrated the capabilities of Independence to support special forces as a fast, modular, highly adaptable, and increasingly autonomous vessel.
“All along, we’ve had a goal of being able to show the United States Navy what the Independence-class can contribute to warfighting for our nation, and coming out here to RIMPAC has been an opportunity for us to show our multinational partners exactly what the ship can contribute in a multinational environment,” he said.
Twenty-two nations, 49 ships, six submarines, about 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 26 to Aug. 1 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2014 is the 24th exercise in the series that began in 1971.