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PEARL HARBOR – A 2013 United High School graduate and Alexis, Illinois, native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise known as the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).
Petty Officer 3rd Class Connor French is a gas turbine systems technician aboard USS O’Kane, currently operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
A Navy gas turbine systems technician is responsible for maintaining the propulsion plant and electrical systems on the ship.
French is looking forward to applying the lessons learned from Alexis to working in the Navy.
“I learned growing up that no matter what the situation, it always comes to an end, so it’s important to work through it,” said French. “That’s definitely helped me in the Navy.”
As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
The theme of RIMPAC 2018 is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners,” according to Navy officials. 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.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the ships come together as a fleet,” said French. “We’re usually operating on our own, so it will be great to see the Navy at it’s best.”
This is the first time Brazil, Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are participating in RIMPAC. Additional firsts include New Zealand serving as sea combat commander and Chile serving as combined force maritime component commander. This is the first time a non-founding RIMPAC nation (Chile) will hold a component commander leadership position.
This year will also feature live firing of a Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) from a U.S. Air Force aircraft, surface to ship missiles by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, and a Naval Strike Missile (NSM) from a launcher on the back of a Palletized Load System (PLS) by the U.S. Army. This marks the first time a land based unit will participate in the live fire event during RIMPAC. RIMPAC 2018 will also include international band engagements and highlight fleet innovation during an Innovation Fair.
“I’m proud of seeing our deployment this year through from the beginning to the end,” said French. “I’m better now than I was when we started.”
Twenty-six nations, 46 surface ships, five 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, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.
As a member of the U.S. Navy, French and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“I’m more resilient than I thought I was, and the Navy has shown me that,” said French. “Serving in the Navy gives me the opportunity to follow those who came before me in doing my part protecting the country.”
Additional information about RIMPAC is available at http://www.cpf.navy.mil.
***Story courtesy of Navy Office of Community Outreach***