The Navy will sponsor a modified Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in August, limiting it to at-sea-only events due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns.

The biennial 27th RIMPAC will last from Aug. 17-31. The Navy said the at-sea-only version was developed to ensure the safety of military forces by minimizing shore-based contingents.

Ships assemble to form a multinational formation during RIMPAC 2018. (Photo: U.S. Navy)
Ships assemble to form a multinational formation during RIMPAC 2018. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The host, U.S. Pacific Fleet, “crafted the modified RIMPAC plan as a way to conduct a meaningful exercise with maximum training value and minimum risk to the force, allies and partners, and the people of Hawaii,” the service said in a statement Wednesday.

The Navy said RIMPAC plans to not have social events ashore. While Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam will be accessible for logistics support, it will have a minimal footprint of staff ashore for command and control, logistics, and other support functions.

RIMPAC occurs off the coast of Hawaii and usually occurs between late June and early August. The Navy did not say how many countries are participating this year, but the 2018 event included 26 nation participants.

The Navy noted RIMPAC is “designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships, critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

“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. And we will operate safely, using prudent mitigation measures,” Adm. John Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.

“We remain committed to and capable of safeguarding allies and partners throughout the Indo-Pacific region. The flexible approach to RIMPAC 2020 strikes the right balance between combating future adversaries and the COVID-19 threat,” he added.

RIMPAC 2020’s theme is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.” It is planned to include multinational anti-submarine warfare, maritime intercept operations, live-fire training events, and other cooperative training opportunities.

However, the Navy noted, “continued planning will remain flexible as Navy leaders monitor and assess evolving circumstances.”

RIMPAC 2020 will be led by Vice Adm. Scott D. Conn, Commander of U.S. 3rd Fleet.