Navy Divers lend expertise during Operation RENDER SAFE 2014

Published on SBLT Luke Deering (author), CPL Matthew Bickerton (photographer)

Location(s): Torokina, Bougainville Island

Topic(s): Operation RENDER SAFE

Two World War II era aircraft bombs, secured onto a Royal Australian Navy Barge, await transport to a deep sea disposal site off the coast of Bougainville, during Operation RENDER SAFE 14. (photo: CPL Matthew Bickerton)
Two World War II era aircraft bombs, secured onto a Royal Australian Navy Barge, await transport to a deep sea disposal site off the coast of Bougainville, during Operation RENDER SAFE 14.

Navy divers have lent their expertise to Operation RENDER SAFE this year forming an integral part of the tri-service Amphibious Task Group that were responding to the dangerous legacy of unexploded ordinance located in Torokina, Bougainville Island.

From 22 October until 8 November, divers from Australian Clearance Diving Teams One and Four coordinated undersea disposal of multiple submerged 2,000 pound aircraft bombs as well as three mark 12 sea mines, all remnants of the Second World War.

Able Seaman Clearance Diver Franko Lucic explained that the work of the divers often became a matter of simple logistics when disposing of very large bombs.

Fighting swirling sand and dirt, two Royal Australian Navy sailors, secure a World War II era aircraft bomb, slung beneath a helicopter on Torokina beach, Bougainville, during Operation RENDER SAFE 14.

Fighting swirling sand and dirt, two Royal Australian Navy sailors, secure a World War II era aircraft bomb, slung beneath a helicopter on Torokina beach, Bougainville, during Operation RENDER SAFE 14.



"In this case it is easier to defuse, move, submerge and dispose of an unexploded bomb four metres underwater than it is to get the appropriate equipment, dig a hole to the appropriate level and cover with an adequate weight of material to minimise fragmentation," he said.

However, for many Pacific communities, these derelict explosive remnants of war remain a deadly threat to their day to day lives and their safe removal is a complicated issue due to the remoteness of these localities. The skill set provided by the Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposals Element of was the answer to these complications for their unique underwater expertise in the capability for submerged ordinance detonations.

"In the end the success of RENDER SAFE isn’t only measured in the number of explosive remnants of war safely detonated, but also measured in fostering a positive and lasting relationship with the local communities and the trust that earns us with our neighbours," Able Seaman Lucic said.

Operation RENDER SAFE is Australia’s enduring commitment to our regional neighbours in the south west Pacific in the clearance of explosive remnants of war.

Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20141718.