RIMPAC underway with China as first-time participant

The 2014 Rim of the Pacific naval exercise is underway after two years of preparation.

More than 30,000 sailors, soldiers and military personnel from more than two dozen nations are in Pearl Harbor this week, with ships double-parked at the end of the docks.

After being an “observer” nation during the last RIMPAC in 2012, the Chinese navy now has three ships taking part in the exercise. Officials call it a huge step in regional cooperation.

“We can all appreciate that conflict is bad for business, I think it is important to note, but just attending RIMPAC, every nation here is making the bold statement that we must improve multinational cooperation despite disagreements,” said Adm. Harry Harris, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “We can agree to disagree without being disagreeable.”

Navy officals say RIMPAC will last until August 1 and bring more than $50 million into Hawaii’s local economy.

This year’s exercise will involve 55 vessels and more than 200 aircraft.

“In about a week, all the ships you see around Pearl Harbor will get underway and work together out to sea and that is what RIMPAC is all about,” said Vice Adm. Kenneth Floyd, RIMPAC commander.

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