A tri-Service advance party for Operation RENDER SAFE 2013 arrived in Honiara via a Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules late in the evening of 28 October.
Unloading the aircraft in the failing light of day at the end of Honiara’s Henderson International Airport, the advance party were ably assisted by members of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Team and staff from the Defence Section at the Australian High Commission.
RSIPF EOD personnel assisted in offloading the critical explosive stores required for the month long operation and provided transport and security. The explosives were stored at their range facility at Hells Point, a facility which will play a key role throughout the conduct of RENDER SAFE. Hells Point is jointly funded through the Australian Defence Cooperation Program (DCP) and the US State Department.
The advance party, comprising 15 personnel, will spend the next week establishing Joint Task Force 663 Headquarters in Honiara and conducting detailed planning for training activities prior to the arrival of the main body on 5 November 2013. This will involve close liaison with RSIPF EOD, the Australian High Commission, Australian Federal Police, Defence Cooperation Program and AusAID, a truly Whole of Government effort.
Supporting units, HMAS Labuan and Tarakan arrive in Honiara on 3 November and HMAS Diamantina arrives on 5 November. RENDER SAFE will involve more than 200 personnel from the ADF, US Navy, Canadian Forces and Royal New Zealand Navy. Focussed primarily on the clearance of explosive remnants of war dating back to World War Two, the RENDER SAFE team will develop capacity within the RSIPF, working side by side with the RSIPF EOD Teams, and engage in significant community development programs. These activities are aimed at improving the safety of daily life for Solomon Islanders around Honiara and in the Russell Islands.
RENDER SAFE will continue until the end of the first week of December.