HONOLULU (KHON2) — On Wednesday, the Cancel RIMPAC Coalition will deliver 12,000 signatures to Governor Ige urging him to request the cancellation of the 27th Annual Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war games over growing concerns of COVID-19 spread. The exercise is set to take place on August 17 through August 31, according to military officials.
RIMPAC is held every two years in and around the Hawaiian Islands as well as parts of Southern California.
In 2018, 26 nations, 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, and more than 25,000 personnel participated in the naval exercises.
The U.S. military agreed in late April to postpone RIMPAC due to the emerging threat of COVID-19 and keep most of the event at-sea-only, with a minimal footprint of staff ashore for command and control, logistics, and other support functions.
The Cancel RIMPAC Coalition is arguing this is not enough. In their petition letter to the governor, the group expressed that holding the exercises in Hawaii waters still threatens the community due to the increase in military personnel.
“Though RIMPAC is limited to an at-sea-only event, if an outbreak occurs at sea, sailors will need to disembark to quarantine and seek medical care, straining Hawaii’s medical facilities and risking the spread of the virus into our community” wrote Kyle Kajihiro with the Cancel RIMPAC Coalition.
The coalition hopes the petition will urge the Governor to demand the Department of Defense to reconsider hosting the event this year. No updates from military officials have been made on whether the exercises will be cancelled.
This petition is sponsored by Hawaii organizations: Cancel RIMPAC Coalition, Hawai’i Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace-Chapter 113-Hawai’i, Malu Aina Center for Nonviolence Education & Action-Big Island and more.
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