Live fire from ships and aircraft participating in the Valiant Shield 2016 exercise sank the decommissioned USS Rentz (FFG 46) about 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, in waters 30,000 feet deep, 220 nautical miles northeast of Guam.
Units from the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps participated in the sinking exercise (SINKEX), which provided them the opportunity to gain proficiency in tactics, targeting and live firing against a surface target at sea.
“This exercise provided an important opportunity for realistic at-sea training with live ordnance, in a blue water environment,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Brian S. Hurley, the U.S. Pacific Fleet Valiant Shield exercise lead. “This event refined our ability to work together seamlessly as a joint force to achieve a very specific training objective.”
Former Navy vessels used in all SINKEXs are prepared in strict compliance with regulations prescribed and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency under a general permit the Navy holds pursuant to the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act.
Each SINKEX is required to sink the hulk in at least 1,000 fathoms (6,000 feet) and at least 50 nautical miles from land.
Surveys are conducted to ensure that humans and marine mammals are not in an area where they could be harmed during the event.
Prior to the vessel being transported for participation in a SINKEX, each vessel is put through a rigorous cleaning process, including the removal of all polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), transformers and large capacitors; all small capacitors to the greatest extent practical; trash; floatatable materials; mercury or fluorocarbon-containing materials and readily detachable solid PCB items. Petroleum is also cleaned from tanks, piping and reservoirs.
A Navy civilian environmental, safety and health manager and a quality assurance supervisor inspect the environmental remediation conducted in preparation of a vessel’s use in a SINKEX. Upon completion of the environmental remediation, the manager and supervisor provide signed certification of the work in accordance with EPA requirements.
Additional aircraft was present during the SINKEX to ensure safety precautions were taken for other potential aircraft and boats within the range area.
“Today we were range clearing for the SINKEX, making sure no one was in the way and everyone involved stayed safe,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Carid Stovill, a patrol wing commander for Patrol Squadron Eight. “We are here as a safety observer. Everything we talk about doing, we are doing here and when we practice with multiple services together and practice communication . . . this is how it is going to be in real-world scenarios.”
Rentz was the 40th ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates, and was named after Chaplain George Snavely Rentz, who gave his life during the Battle of Java Sea when the USS Houston (CA 30) was struck by a barrage of enemy torpedo fire and sunk. The ship was home ported at San Diego for nearly 30 years and conducted countless operations along the west coast of the United States with regular, extended deployments to the U.S. Seventh Fleet, U.S. Fifth Fleet and U.S. Fourth Fleet areas of operation. In her nearly 30 years of service, Rentz performed superbly and is credited with assisting in the interdiction of 14,000 pounds of cocaine in 2003 during counter-narcotics operations, saving 90 Ecuadorian citizens from a distressed vessel in the eastern Pacific in 2005, and supporting multiple operations including Operation Earnest Will, Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines, Operation Ultimatum and the Global War on Terrorism. Rentz was decommissioned May 9, 2014.
Sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command, Valiant Shield is a U.S.-only, biennial field training exercise (FTX) with a focus on integrated joint training among U.S. forces that increases participants' ability to plan, communicate and conduct complex maritime operations. This training enables real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land, and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas.