Suffolk sailors join exercise
Two Suffolk men are among the U.S. Navy sailors participating in the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Angelo Scott, a 2009 King’s Fork High School graduate, is an electrician’s mate, responsible for electrical safety and tool issue aboard the ship.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin Dowden, a 2010 Nansemond River High School graduate, is a cryptologic technician, responsible for anti-ship missile defense.
Both sailors are assigned to the USS William P. Lawrence, currently operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
“As this is my first RIMPAC, I look forward to interacting with other countries’ navies and cultures,” Scott said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the different navies operating together while at RIMPAC,” said Dowden.
According to Navy officials, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.
RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
The theme of RIMPAC 2016 is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners,” Navy officials explained.
The participating nations and forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting.
The relevant, realistic training program includes amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations.
The Department of the Navy’s Great Green Fleet yearlong initiative will also play a major role in RIMPAC. The initiative highlights global operations using energy conservation measures and alternative fuel blends to demonstrate how optimizing energy use increases resiliency and operational readiness.
During RIMPAC, almost all participating units will operate using an approved alternate-fuel blend.
Twenty-six nations, 45 surface ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise.
This year’s exercise includes forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, People’s Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“We are wrapping up a deployment,” said Cmdr. Walter C. Mainor, the commanding officer aboard the Lawrence. “We’ve conducted exercises with many foreign navies, and this pulls it all together. This is a capstone event for our 7th Fleet deployment.”
Our visit to Hawaii has been well-deserved rest and relaxation for our crew,” Mainor added. “Our most important asset is our sailors, and the job they do day in and day out is so important. The average age onboard is 25, and the expectations we have for them are so great. They just continue to exceed them.”
“The crew is the best,” said Scott. “They just make things easier for me.”
Challenging living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew, Scott explained. The crew is highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.
“This has been a brand new experience for me,” Dowden said. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people and visited some cool places. I accept responsibility a lot more now that I have been serving in the Navy.”
Scott sees his service in the military as something of a family heritage.
“For me the military is slowly becoming one of the family businesses,” said Scott. “I have a cousin in the army, as well.”