This story has been updated to include the name of the ship and details from the Peruvian Navy.
HONOLULU — A Peruvian ship participating in the biennial Rim of the Pacific naval exercise in Hawaii suffered a fire in its engine room, and two sailors were flown ashore for medical treatment, an exercise spokesman said.
“At approximately 8 a.m. [Hawaii Standard Time] this morning, the Rim of the Pacific watch floor received reports of a fire and potential injuries aboard a Combined Task Force ship,” Cmdr. Sean Robertson told Defense News in a statement. “The combined RIMPAC force is providing support to the vessel.”
According to Roberston, “[a]s of 1:40 p.m. HST, the fire in the engine room aboard a Combined Task Force surface vessel is now extinguished.”
“Two critically stable patients were evacuated from the ship by a helicopter from French navy frigate FS Prairial (F731) to USCGC Midgett (WMSL 757), and have since been transferred ashore by U.S. Navy helicopter from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72),” he added.
The U.S. Navy did not initially identify the ship or nation involved.
Later in the day, the Peruvian Navy released a statement acknowledging that its corvette Guise suffered a fire that was extinguished by the crew and with support from foreign units nearby. The statement said two crew members were receiving specialized care ashore in Honolulu and that the rest of the crew was unharmed in the incident, which is being investigated.
Guise is the only ship Peru sent to this year’s exercise. It had been photographed operating alongside French frigate Prairial, U.S. Navy destroyer Chafee and U.S. Coast Guard national security cutter Midgett.
Guise is a former South Korean ship that was commissioned in 1988 and decommissioned in 2019, according to media reports. The ship went through extensive work and upgrades before being delivered to Peru in late 2021.
The ships in the exercise are divided up into a handful of multinational task forces, each with a different focus, ranging from amphibious operations to anti-submarine warfare to sea combat, among other missions. It was not immediately clear what role Guise was playing and how the fire may affect the RIMPAC exercise going forward.
The ships are wrapping up the first week of a two-week at-sea training phase, which will be followed by a “free-play” advanced phase that’s less scripted and will force ship crews and task force commanders to think more critically about how to use their assets to achieve evolving objectives.
This year’s iteration of RIMPAC includes 38 ships and four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and about 25,000 total personnel from 26 countries.
In an opening press conference, U.S. 3rd Fleet Commander and RIMPAC leader Vice Adm. Michael Boyle said his top priorities for this year’s event — the first full-scale RIMPAC in four years, after the 2020 exercise was significantly scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic — was for forces to operate safely, for the exercise to be environmentally responsible and for participants to learn something they could take back home.
The fire is not the first setback for this year’s RIMPAC. Several exercise leaders and other staff members have contracted COVID-19, though Boyle and several spokespeople for the exercise have said the event proves the military can fight through the pandemic.
Additionally, Tropical Storm Darby passed south of the Big Island on July 16, with exercise planners monitoring how the winds and higher sea states could affect a variety of at-sea events planned, including a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief drill.
Megan Eckstein is the naval warfare reporter at Defense News. She has covered military news since 2009, with a focus on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations, acquisition programs, and budgets. She has reported from four geographic fleets and is happiest when she’s filing stories from a ship. Megan is a University of Maryland alumna.