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US Coast Guard cutter crews, dive teams train global counterparts in this year's RIMPAC

 The U.S. Cutter Midgett is docked at the Coast Guard Base Honolulu.
Sophia McCullough
/
Hawaiʻi Public Radio
The U.S. Cutter Midgett is docked at the Coast Guard Base Honolulu. (July 11, 2022)

International partnership and interagency mingling are both key parts of the Rim of the Pacific exercises. The locally-based cutter crews and dive teams are training global counterparts over at the U.S. Coast Guard’s District 14 Honolulu Base.

Despite being the smallest of its kind in the Coast Guard, the Hawaiʻi Regional Dive Locker covers the expansive Indo-Pacific Command, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Steve Lincoln.

During one RIMPAC exercise, they simulated a port reopening after a tsunami. The dive team coached divers from the Republic of Korea, Canada and the Netherlands.

“This is exactly what our job is here in a natural disaster or any sort of port obstruction,” Lincoln said. He said they do “light salvage,” which can be anything under 50,000 pounds. “We don't have boats, we don't have cranes.”

Above water, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Midgett has been refueling foreign nation ships at sea and participating in missile training. The crew has a command of Combined Task Force 175, which also includes ships from France, Peru and the U.S. Navy.

Next month, the Midgett will head out with 60 Navy sailors patrolling the western Pacific targeting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

“For the most part, we have a firehouse mentality," Commanding Officer Capt. Willie Carmichael said, pointing to search and rescues and law enforcement.

 U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Midgett Commanding Officer Capt. Willie Carmichael discusses the boat's duties during RIMPAC, which include assuming command of Combined Task Force 175
Sophia McCullough
/
Hawaiʻi Public Radio
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Midgett Commanding Officer Capt. Willie Carmichael discusses the boat's duties during RIMPAC, which include assuming command of Combined Task Force 175.

When working with other agencies, they’re able to learn from one another.

“One of the things we've learned from a gap, per se, is the ability to plan and execute long-range planning efforts that are very complex in the maritime environment,” Carmichael said. “So we're learning some of those lessons from our Navy counterparts.”

Carmichael’s crew participated in a mass-rescue drill with a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ship last week. The disaster exercise simulated a sinking vessel, and showcased the local Coast Guard’s abilities.

“Disaster response is one of the biggest differences in the area of growth that we've experienced from RIMPAC 2018 to RIMPAC 2022,” he said.

Sabrina Bodon is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact her at sbodon@hawaiipublicradio.org or 808-792-8252.
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