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RIMPAC ships steam in formation off Hawaii

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 9:31 p.m. HST, Jul 28, 2012

Ships and submarines participating in the Rim of the Pacific naval exercises lined up for their class portrait Friday in sun-dappled waters off Hawaii.

The flotilla, led by the carrier USS Nimitz, included the Pearl Harbor-based cruisers USS Chosin, USS Lake Erie and USS Port Royal, destroyers USS Chafee, USS Chung-Hoon and USS Paul Hamilton, frigates USS Crommelin and USS Reuben James, submarines USS Charlotte, USS Cheyenne and USS North Carolina, and the salvage ship USS Salvor.

Meanwhile, days after sinking the decommissioned USNS Kilauea, the Australian navy’s HMAS Farncomb was sidelined last week due to a flooding incident.

According to the Australian Defense Force, the Collins-class submarine was cruising at periscope depth during an exercise on Wednesday when a water hose in the vessel’s weight compensation system split, resulting in minor flooding.

No one was hurt in the incident and the submarine was able to safely return to Pearl Harbor for repairs. The cause of the malfunction is under investigation.

The submarine was responsible for one of the most publicized and impressive RIMPAC demonstrations this month. On July 23, the Farncomb sank the 12-ton target ship with a MK-48 torpedo. 

The blast split the ship in two, causing it to sink within 40 minutes.

Collins submarines like the Farncomb were subjected to rigorous examination following a near disaster in 2003, in which a seawater cooling hose burst while the HMAS Dechaineux was deep under water.

The accident resulted in significant design upgrades to similar vessels, including the Farncomb.

Two years ago, the Farncomb was also forced to withdraw from exercises due to a generator failure.

Australia is one of 22 nations participating in this year’s RIMPAC exercises.

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