Cove native participates in world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise
Special to Leader-Press
PEARL HARBOR – A 2015 Copperas Cove High School graduate and Copperas Cove, Texas 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 Dante Upton is a ship’s serviceman aboard USS Lake Champlain, currently operating out of San Diego, California.
A Navy ship’s serviceman is responsible for providing services to the ship’s crew, such as the ship’s store and barber shop.
Upton is looking forward to applying the lessons learned from Copperas Cove to working in the Navy.
“I learned the value of timeliness and punctuality, which has helped me out so far in the Navy,” said Upton.
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 being able to drive the ship during a RIMPAC photo exercise,” said Upton.
This is the first time 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 very proud to have qualified as a master helmsman, which only three other sailors on the ship have done,” said Upton. “It means they trust me to maneuver the ship in restricted waters, a more high-risk evolution.
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, 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, Upton and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“I’ve learned that I can handle any situation the Navy gives me,” said Upton. “Serving in the Navy gives me the opportunity to expand my horizons by traveling the world. Also, the Navy gives me a great opportunity to better myself.”