In all the hype surrounding drones and artificial intelligence in warfare, it is easy to forget the capabilities of live ordnance and their instant impact. Looks like, the US military also decided to reminisce the good old days of warfare and decided to blast one of its decommissioned frigates, the US Pacific Fleet, confirmed in a press release.
The blasting of the frigate was part of a sinking exercise (SINKEX) that the US military conducts as part of its training efforts. The Navy uses former vessels, called hulks, for their SINKEX. The target for the recent exercise was the ex-USS Ingraham. Commissioned in 1989, this was the last Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate that the US built.
It was the named after Duncan Nathaniel Ingraham and was the fourth US naval ship to bear his name. Interestingly, it is the second ship to be used in a SINKEX, after the previous USS Ingraham, that was decommissioned in 1971, was sold to the Greek Navy, where it was used in a similar exercise and sunken in 2001.
SINKEX, however, is not just aim and shoot exercises. Just like the Full Ship Shock Trials (FSST), SINKEX follow a Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated protocol. First the target ship is thoroughly cleaned to remove environmentally hazardous substances. It is then inspected by the EPA before being transported to the sink site, that lies at least 50 nautical miles away from the land and have at least 6,000 feet (1,828 m) or 1000 fathoms of water, the press release said.Additional surveys are conducted to ensure that marine mammals and humans are not present in the area.
The recent SINKEX was held in the Hawaiian Islands Operating Area and units from Vinson Carrier Strike Group (VINCSG), Submarine Forces Pacific, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force, III Marine Expeditionary, and U.S. Army Multi-Domain Task Force participated in the exercise.
The U.S. 3rd Fleet operates in the Indo-Pacific region and also provides relevant and realistic training exercises to the US Navy. Speaking about the exercise, its Commander Vice Adm. Steve Koehler said, "Lethal combat power was effectively applied to a variety of maritime threats over the last two weeks in a simulated environment as part of the Navy’s Large-Scale Exercise and expertly demonstrated Sunday (15th Aug 2021) with live ordnance."
"The precise and coordinated strikes resulted in the rapid destruction and sinking of the target ship and exemplify our ability to decisively apply force in the maritime battlespace," he added.