By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sara B. Sexton,
Commander, Task Force 70 Public Affairs
PHILIPPINE SEA – Live fire from ships and aircraft participating in Valiant Shield 2016 sank the decommissioned USS Rentz (FFG 46) in waters 30,000 feet deep and 117 nautical miles northeast of Guam, Sept. 13.
Valiant Shield units, including USS Benfold (DDG 65), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), aircraft from Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW 5), currently embarked on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft from the “Tridents” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 26, the “Yellow Jackets” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 138, and U.S. Marine Corps aircraft from the “Silver Eagles” of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VFMA) 115 participated in the event.
“The SINKEX was the first CVW -5 led event in Valiant Shield, and it was a major success,” said Lt. Cmdr. Alfred Del Vecchio, CVW-5 SINKEX lead planner. “Almost every planned missile shoot was successful, thanks to the hard work from the “Liberty Bells” from VAW 115, who provided range clearance for the event, to the to the Aviation Ordnance men and women that enable the weapons to work flawlessly and finally to the aircrew in the cockpits employing the ordnance. The boat sank in five hours after sustaining 22 missile hits, finally succumbing to hellfire missiles shots by the “Golden Falcons” of HSC 12.
This event marked the first time that the “Eagles” from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115 successfully fired a JSOW C-1 guided gliding munition, a weapon that has not previously been used in an exercise of this nature.
Former Navy vessels used in 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) of water 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, floatable 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.
Decommissioned USS Rentz was the 46th ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates, named after Chaplain George Snavely Rentz, who selflessly gave his life at the Battle of Coral Sea. Rentz gave his life jacket to a fellow Sailor after his ship, USS Houston (CA 30), was hit by enemy topedoes and sunk. Rentz was commissioned June 30, 1984 and originally homeported in San Diego, California, December 1985. During her more than 30 year career, the ship was part of a historic port visit in November 1986 to Qingdao, China, the first U.S. Naval visit to China since 1949. Rentz was sent to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Earnest Will and deployed with the Nimitz carrier strike group. Rentz also conducted counter narcotics operations, among other missions.
Valiant Shield 2016 is a biennial, U.S.-only, field training exercise (FTX) with a focus on integration of joint training among U.S. forces in relation to current operational plans. 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.