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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

Decommissioned ship to be sunk in Pacific ocean; Navy says sinking exercise follows environmental re

A decommissioned ship will be blasted and sunk in the Pacific Ocean during a live-fire training at sea, which is part of the ongoing Exercise Valiant Shield 2020.

The U.S. Navy said the sinking exercise will be conducted in strict compliance with applicable U.S. environmental laws, regulations, and permit requirements to minimize potential harm to the environment.

The sinking exercise, which generally involves air, surface and undersea military units conducting live-fire training at sea against a physical target, will use "the environmentally clean" decommissioned hulk of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, ex-USS Curts (FFG 38).

Commissioned on Oct. 8, 1983, the USS Curts (FFG-38) was the 29th ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class of guided-missile frigates. It was decommissioned on Jan. 25, 2013.

According to Military Today, Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate was designed in the 1970s to replace the large numbers of obsolete U.S. World War II and post-World War II general-purpose vessels, such as the Knox class ocean escort frigates.

The Navy said sinking exercises within waters surrounding Guam and Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands are positioned outside the footprint of the Mariana Trench National Monument.

Sinking exercises are regular part of the war games.

Last August, the decommissioned USS Durham, a Charleston-class amphibious cargo ship, was sunk during the Rim of the Pacific exercise.

"SINKEXs give participants an opportunity to gain proficiency and confidence in their weapons and systems through realistic training that cannot be duplicated in simulators," according to a press release from the Navy.

The Navy said vessels that are used for sinking exercises undergo a rigorous cleaning process, in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency standards.

The procedure includes removal of all polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from transformers, large capacitors, and small capacitors to the greatest extent practical, and all trash, floatable materials, mercury or fluorocarbon containing materials, and readily detachable solid PCB items. Petroleum is cleaned from the vessel's tanks, pipes and reservoirs. The Navy also complies with documentation requirements to track components containing liquid PCBs and solid shipboard materials potentially containing PCBs. SINKEXs are conducted in water at least 1,000 fathoms (6,000 feet) deep and at least 50 nautical miles from land, only after the area has been surveyed for the presence of people, marine vessels, aircraft, and marine species. SINKEXs are fully compliant with the National Environmental Policy Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, and a general permit under the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act.

About 100 aircraft and 11,000 personnel from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command forces are participating in Exercise Valiant Shield 2020, which kicked last week week.

The biennial field training exercise are being held on Guam and around the Mariana Islands Range Complex from Sept. 14 to 25, with participants from the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps.

"This training event will enhance the Joint Force's combat readiness and lethal capability, enabling forces to respond to operational missions throughout the region to ensure a stable, free and open Indo-Pacific," the Navy said.

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