This summer 49 surface ships, 6 submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel from more than 20 nations took part in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014. Hosted by the U.S. Navy every other year, RIMPAC is the world’s largest multinational maritime exercise. This year’s event turned out to be even more unique because it involved a powerful contingent of forces from the People’s Republic of China. This was the first time the People’s Liberation Army Navy was invited to attend. China sent its modern Luyang II–class (Project 052C) guided-missile destroyer Haikou, the Jiangkai II–class (Project 054A) guided-missile frigate Yeuyang, the Fuchi-class replenishment ship Qiandaohu, and the hospital ship Daishandao (also called the Peace Ark, pictured here pierside), as well as Z-8 and Z-9 maritime helicopters and a maritime dive unit. Rumor has it that China will be invited back for future RIMPACs, although previous attendees have included Russia and Thailand, both of which were noticeably absent this year in light of ongoing political and military issues.
By Eric Wertheim