US-led naval exercises, world’s biggest, to push through despite coronavirus threat
MANILA, Philippines—The world’s biggest naval exercise, Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac), will push through this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the US Pacific Fleet on Thursday.
But the two-week exercises, set Aug. 17 to 31 in waters near Hawaii, would be limited to only sea events. It is forgoing social and cultural events onshore, which had been part of previous exercises, as a precaution against coronavirus infection.
Rimpac is held every two years. In 2018, 26 nations, including the Philippines, took part in joint drills.
“In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that our maritime forces work together to protect vital shipping lanes and ensure freedom of navigation through international waters,” said US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral John Aquilino.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Navy had planned to send two ships for this year’s exercises.
Navy chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said plans are already in place for the Philippine Navy’s participation in this year’s Rimpac.
Higher-ranking authorities, however, have yet to confirm the Philippine Navy’s engagement because of the pandemic.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said it’s “too early to decide” if the Philippine Navy would participate in Rimpac.
The US Pacific Fleet did not say how many countries would join this year’s naval exercises, which include multinational anti-submarine warfare, maritime intercept operations and live-fire training events.
“Continued planning will remain flexible as Navy leaders monitor and assess evolving circumstances,” the US Pacific Fleet said.
Edited by TSB
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