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July 18, 2006

RIMPAC participants get target practice

No, it's not a story about some active sonar allegedly killing marine life but an actual live ordinance firing event. I read about this on the message boards at work but I didn't know if I was going to be able to disclose the information. When I saw the article in the local paper I knew it would be ok.

About a week ago the USS Belleau Wood and USS Mauna Kea were sunk off the coast of the Hawaiian islands by allied forces participating in this year's Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC). Ships and P-3 aircraft got in on the fun by pummeling both ships with missiles and bombs. Suprisingly, the Belleau Wood put up a good fight, a testament to her resilience under fire. Of course, she is 833 feet long and displaces 39,300 tons so I would assume she was going to take a while to sink.
"They are going to keep shooting at them until we run out of whatever ordnance we brought," said Capt. Jill Votaw, a Rimpac spokeswoman.
The spokeswoman also said there was a submarine in the area in case the skimmer and airdale pussies couldn't get the job done. A friend of mine who got underway for the exercise said they were pumped up and hoping they would get to fire at it. Sadly, it appears they did not get their chance.

I recall a naval SinkEx in January of 1992 when I was stationed on the USS Los Angeles. The USS Tautog and the L.A. were part of the SinkEx that turned the USS Darter into a reef off the coast of Hawaii. I remember that it was going to either be us or the Tautog that would be firing the Navy's new MK48 ADCAP but I guess the Tautog's C.O. tossed the Commodore's salad first. I heard the explosion on sonar and it was the coolest thing I had heard in my 4 year 'career' as a sonarman.

I think that this is the most fitting way for a naval vessel to end its service. I would rather see it fade under the sea than for it to be cut up into razor blades.

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