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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022 4 months ago

Ocoee native participates in world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise

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For Seaman Christina Bianco, serving in the Navy "means I'm protecting my family. We stand duty on the oceans for those who can’t.”
by: Guest Writer

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Sorensen
Navy Office of Community Outreach

PEARL HARBOR A 2017 Ocoee High School graduate and Ocoee native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, Rim of the Pacific — RIMPAC.

Seaman Christina Bianco is an undesignated sailor aboard USS Chafee, currently operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

A Navy undesignated sailor gets to try many jobs on the ship before deciding which career path they want to choose.

Today, Bianco uses skills and values similar to those learned in Ocoee.

“We all leave our homes for a reason, but I bring my family values with me wherever I go,” Bianco said.

As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

The theme of RIMPAC 2022 is Capable, Adaptive, Partners. The participating nations and forces exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program includes gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as amphibious, counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations.

“I thought it was really cool to work with the boatswain’s mates,” Bianco said. “I learned how to moor our ship as well as how all the ships from other countries tie up to the piers. Not everyone gets to see how other nations work together.”

Serving in the Navy means Bianco is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy keeps the enemies away from our homeland,” Bianco said. “The Navy is the backbone of freedom. We are on land and in the ocean to keep the peace.”

With more than 90% of all trade traveling by sea, and 95% of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiberoptic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities, and capacity.

“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life,” Gilday said. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”

Hosted by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, RIMPAC 2022 will be led by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, who will serve as Combined Task Force commander. Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Christopher Robinson will serve as deputy commander of the CTF, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Toshiyuki Hirata as the vice commander, and Fleet Marine Force will be led by U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Joseph Clearfield. Other key leaders of the multinational force will include Commodore Paul O’Grady of the Royal Australian Navy, who will command the maritime component, and Brig. Gen. Mark Goulden of the Royal Canadian Air Force, who will command the air component.

“I'm proud of learning patience, discipline and stepping into adulthood,” Bianco said.“Discipline is important in life.”

During RIMPAC, a network of capable, adaptive partners train and operate together in order to strengthen their collective forces and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific. RIMPAC 2022 contributes to the increased interoperability, resiliency and agility needed by the Joint and Combined Force to deter and defeat aggression by major powers across all domains and levels of conflict.

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Bianco and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

“Serving in the Navy means I'm protecting my family,” Bianco said. “We stand duty on the oceans for those who can't.”

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