By Peter Mallett
Despite a world pandemic, two Canadian warships will transit to Hawaii in August for a major training exercise.
Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Regina and Winnipeg will represent the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in a scaled-back version of the 27th biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.
The United States Navy (USN), organizers of RIMPAC, had anticipated this year’s event to be even grander than the most recent one in 2018. They planned more complex scenarios and more participating nations.
However, on March 6, they issued a statement detailing a drastic scaling back of plans due to COVID-19.
RIMPAC 2020 will be an at-sea only event. Both the land and air components of the exercise have been cancelled to minimize international travel and person-to-person contact.
There will be a smaller support staff ashore in Honolulu, Hawaii, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and limited social events surrounding the exercise.
Commodore (Cmdre) Angus Topshee, Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific, says the RCN is ready to adapt and respond to changes in the world, and that includes the navy’s response to COVID-19 mitigation efforts for RIMPAC. Sailors and aviators will be quarantined prior to the exercise, and COVID-19 testing will be conducted in cooperation with the Government of British Columbia.
“We will continue to review and adapt all our procedures in light of COVID-19 and I have confidence in the flexible and innovative nature of our sailors and…