With the Multinational Exercise RIMPAC 2024 approaching, it has been revealed that a retired USS Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship from the United States Navy (US Navy) will be destroyed as a target and sunk off the coast of Hawaii. It is important to note that this is the second ship of its class to be used for this purpose in two decades, and the first time in over a decade that any type of amphibious assault ship has been sunk in an exercise organized by the United States.

The mentioned ship, also known as USS Tarawa (LHA-1), was decommissioned in 2009 and is currently located on Ford Island, in the center of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Tarawa, the first of its class, entered service in the US Navy in 1976 and during the 1970s and 1980s conducted routine deployments in the Western Pacific and participated in peacekeeping operations in Lebanon in 1983. In 1990, as part of Operation Desert Shield, it transported troops to Saudi Arabia before the Gulf War and later participated in operations in Iraq following the US-led invasion in 2003. On its final operational mission, it supported military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In this regard, the US Navy will use the USS Tarawa as a target in a live-fire exercise as part of RIMPAC 2024, which will provide an opportunity to gather data on the effectiveness of weapons and the resilience of large warships, as the USS Tarawa has a displacement of nearly 40,000 tons. The sinking exercise, dubbed “SINKEX,” is the culminating event of the multinational activities.

As noted, this is not the first time a Tarawa-class ship has been used as a target in RIMPAC. The former USS Belleau Wood was sunk during the 2006 edition of the exercise. Five of the seven amphibious assault ships of the Iwo Jima class, which preceded the Tarawa class, were also used in other RIMPAC SINKEX events (the other two were scrapped). The former USS New Orleans was the last to be sent to the bottom of the Pacific in the 2010 edition.

On the other hand, RIMPAC 2024 will also serve as an opportunity for allies and partners of the United States to participate in live-fire operations, with the involvement of forty surface ships, three submarines, over 150 aircraft, and more than 25,000 personnel from various countries under the theme “Partners: Integrated and Ready.”

Forces from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, in addition to the United States, are scheduled to participate in this year’s iteration of the exercise.

The armament to be used in the upcoming RIMPAC 2024 SINKEX is unknown, although torpedoes launched from submarines are typically used to deliver the final blow in these live-fire events.

*Photographs used for illustrative purposes.

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