El Cajon native participates in largest international maritime warfare exercise
SPECIAL TO THE EAST COUNTY CALIFORNIAN
A 2009 Granite Hills High School graduate and El Cajon, California native is serving in the U.S. Navy and is participating in the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC).
Petty Officer 3rd Class Alexander Farrell is a fire controlman aboard USS Chung-Hoon, currently operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
A Navy fire controlman is responsible for operating and maintaining the weapons systems on surface ships.
“During RIMPAC I like having more interaction with foreign sailors,” said Farrell.
According to Navy officials, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are 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 inherent 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, 5 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.
“RIMPAC demonstrates the value of capable maritime partners,” said Cmdr. Tom Ogden, commanding officer of USS Chung-Hoon. “It’s an honor for our sailors to participate in this unmatched exercise. Our crew looks forward to building relationships and interoperability with our partner nations.”
“This ship is technically the same class as some others I’ve been on,” said Farrell. “And yet, there are so many things that are different and need to be learned.”
Challenging living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew, Farrell explained. The crew is highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.
“There are times when I can be under a lot of pressure while serving in the Navy,” said Farrell. “They just make you stronger though.”