LST torpedoed and sunk at RIMPAC 2018
Last week, American, Japanese and Australian forces launched a joint “attack” on the ex-USS Racine, a decommissioned tank landing ship, as part of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 exercise. The sinking exercise, or “SINKEX,” involved land-based, air, surface and submarine assets.
The land-based component of the exercise included a live firing of surface-to-ship missiles by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, along with the launch of a Naval Strike Missile (NSM) from a launcher on the back of a U.S. Army Palletized Load System (PLS) truck. It was the first time that ground forces have participated in a sinking exercise during RIMPAC.
“As naval forces drive our enemies into the littorals, army forces can strike them. Conversely, when the army drives our enemies out to sea naval firepower can do the same,” said Adm. Phil Davidson, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
The Royal Australian Air Force provided the air component, launching a Harpoon anti-ship missile from a recently-purchased P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft. The American attack submarine USS Olympia fired the final shots, a sub-launched Harpoon missile followed by a Mk-48 torpedo. The Mk-48 hit the Racine amidships, breaking her keel and sending her below.
Racine was one of 20 Newport-class landing ships that were built during the Cold War as replacements for the Navy’s WWII-era LSTs. The Newport-class Landing Ship, Tank featured a distinctive bow ramp, with a load capacity of up to 75 tons, along with a stern gate. Racine was the 13th in the class, and was built at National Steel and Shipbuilding (now General Dynamics NASSCO) in 1971. She served during the final years of the Vietnam War as a cargo ship and troop transport, and she had several Western Pacific deployments over the course of her career. She was decommissioned in 1993 and prepared for disposal in 2013.
During the last RIMPAC SINKEX live-fire event, the target failed to sink. The former USS Thatch, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, absorbed four Harpoon anti-ship missiles; one Maverick missile; multiple Hellfire missiles; one 2,000 lb. bomb; one 500 lb. bomb; and one Mk. 48 torpedo (video below). She still stayed afloat for 12 hours.
A second movie can be found here.