190th climbs aboard maritime exercise Published Oct. 7, 2014 By Tech. Sgt. Emily Alley 190th Public Affairs FORBES FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Topeka, Kan. -- Members of the 190th Air Refueling Wing joined the largest intenational maritime exercise in the world this July. RIMPAC, or Rim of the Pacific, is a bi-yearly exercise based primarily around the Hawaiian Islands. About 20 Coyotes joined 25,000 other participants, 25 nations, about 50 naval vessels and 200 aircraft in the exercise. While most of the wing's participation came in the form of aircraft support, one member also accepted an invitation to support the Navy's showcase of the USS Independence, a new class of ship designed for surface combat. The Independence, launched in 2009, has a large landing platform for helicopters and can move in water as shallow as 14 feet. "Even before we arrived there were a lot of eyes on the ship for RIMPAC," said the ship's captain, Navy Commander Joseph A. Gagliano. "Having the Secretary of the Navy on board was probably the proudest moment for this crew. For him to come out and see how a project that's so imporant has gone from the drawing board to the fleet as a combat ready ship meant so much." For the visit, the Navy invited Tech. Sgt. Mandy Johnson to spend a few days living as a sailor and documenting the exercise. She slept on the two-by-six foot beds and augmented the public affairs office on the ship starting work as early as 5 a.m. and staying up as late as 11 p.m. to finish her mission. Johnson photographed the visit by the Secretary of the Navy and also observed the official photo exercise at the end of the event, called a PHOTOEX. The Navy traditionally concludes exercises with a group photo that combines multiple ships and aircraft. The photo takes days to plan. "I was impressed by the intelligence on the bridge," Johnson said, as she described the Navy's meticulous coordination that ended the PHOTOEX. "The sailors used hand-drafted navigation and newer technology to coordinate things like speed and which engines to use. You could tell they were knowledgeable."