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Submitted by Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Sorensen, Navy Office of Community Outreach

A 2019 Napavine Junior and Senior High School graduate and Napavine, Washington, 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 Michael Heiner is an electrician’s mate (EM) aboard the USS Gridley, currently operating out of Everett, Washington. Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ethan Carter

Seaman Michael Heiner is an electrician’s mate (EM) aboard the USS Gridley, currently operating out of Everett, Washington.

A Navy EM is responsible for the operation and repair of a ship’s or station’s electrical power plant and electrical equipment. They also maintain and repair power and lighting circuits, distribution switchboards, generators, motors and other electrical equipment.

Today, Heiner uses skills and values similar to those learned in Napavine.

“Growing up in a very small town prepares you for living and working on a destroyer,” said Heiner. “This ship is the same size as my high school. Interacting with about 350 people from diverse backgrounds is similar to walking down the street in a small town.”

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’m looking forward to the international, naval exercises that come with RIMPAC,” said Heiner.

Serving in the Navy means Heiner 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.

“Our two longest borders are along the sea and we have interests around the world,” said Heiner. “Maritime defense is the first line of defense.”

With more than 90% of all trade traveling by sea, and 95% of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States are 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,” said Gilday. “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 (CTF) 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 the work ethic the Navy has instilled in me,” said Heiner.

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, Heiner and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“My father would say, ‘a grateful nation takes her willing sons,’” added Heiner. “The constant support from the public is much appreciated.”

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