What happens when those warships go to sea? The Combined Information Bureau can show you

A large ship is in a harbour at dusk
The Royal Canadian Navy's Interim Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment Ship, Motor Vessel Asterix departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on July 9, 2018 to participate in the sea phase of Exercise RIMPAC 2018. Photo: SergeantDevin VandeSype, Canadian Forces Imagery Technician

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By Lieutenant-Commander Desmond James, Public Affairs Officer, Canadian Armed Forces

When warships go to sea, the public often has no idea what the ships are actually doing. As the saying goes, out of sight out of mind. That is why the work of the staff in RIMPAC’s Combined Information Bureau (CIB) is so critical. The CIB staff are really the eyes for the general public.

Every two years, a multinational group of military journalists, photographers, videographers, and public affairs officers unite in Hawaii and Southern California to tell the story of the world’s largest international maritime exercise.

The CIB is divided into three cells: production, distinguished visitors, and media. Together, they provide access to all aspects of the exercise, including coordinating visits by leadership from around the world, facilitating ship tours, and providing access to civilian media agencies. CIB members also document the exercise through photos, video, and stories, illustrating the partnerships that are otherwise hidden behind closed doors or that happen while operating miles out at sea.

“In Japan, our primary objective is to improve tactical operability as well as promoting understanding and reinforcing ties with other navies,” says Lieutenant-commander Daiju Kambara, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force public affairs officer.

Coordinating with international civilian media helps give friends, family, and the general public back home a window into their navy’s participation in RIMPAC.

“We receive questions from media from many different countries and each wants to discuss their country’s specific role in RIMPAC,” said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Julie Holland, RIMPAC media cell lead. “We make a concerted effort to ensure we don’t just speak about one country, but rather how each partner nation plays a vital role in building partnerships and thus a successful RIMPAC.”

While traditional news media plays a large part in telling the RIMPAC story, social media continues to grow and has taken on a larger role recently, with a presence on a variety of platforms.

“Social media enables us to communicate and engage with the public no matter where in the world they are,” said Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant John Thompson, RIMPAC’s social media lead. “We’re using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube and we’re being more innovative. We’re improving our engagement by doing more video, live broadcasting and infographics. The results have been extremely encouraging. ”

Modern military operations are often conducted in diverse, international coalitions, so RIMPAC is a valuable opportunity to build relationships and train together in a peacetime setting. Dozens of CIB team members communicate the critical importance of that partnership to the world through imagery and stories, showing the public that the 25 RIMPAC nations have indeed become capable, adaptive partners.

Image gallery

  • An air force member signals to a plane on a runway
  • Large projectiles are fired from a metal semi-circle
  • A soldier walks in shallow water at the beach, carrying a fake rifle and many bags
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