RENDER SAFE 2013 - clearance operations commence

Published on WOCSMMW Darren Chapman (author), CAPT John Leathley (photographer), ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez (photographer)

Location(s): Honiara, Solomon Islands

Topic(s): HMAS Diamantina (M86), Operation RENDER SAFE, HMAS Tarakan (II), HMAS Labuan (II)

21 pieces of World War II ordnance, which were located and  made safe near Honiara International Airport in the Solomon Islands as part of Operation RENDER SAFE 2013. (photo: CAPT John Leathley)
21 pieces of World War II ordnance, which were located and made safe near Honiara International Airport in the Solomon Islands as part of Operation RENDER SAFE 2013.

Less than 24 hours after the establishment of the headquarters for Operation RENDER SAFE 2013 in Solomon Islands, elements of the JTF 663 Advanced Party partnered with elements of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team to locate and make safe explosive remnants of war near Honiara International Airport.

Commander Joint Task Force 663, Commander Doug Griffiths, said he was pleased with the seamless cooperation of the combined teams to deal with the 21 pieces of World War II (WWII) ordnance.

“The ability to partner with elements of the RSIPF EOD provided ADF EOD operators the ability to share best practices and learn from each other,” he said.

“The RSIPF have established a highly professional capability regionally acknowledged as the gold standard in South Pacific EOD capability.”

“This year, the RSIPF EOD element has disposed of nearly 11,000 individual pieces of explosive ordnance.”

Commander Griffiths said the remainder of the Operation RENDER SAFE Task Force including HMAS Diamantina, Labuan and Tarakan, and EOD operators from the United States, Canada and New Zealand will arrive in Solomon Islands this week for the month long operation.

HMAS Diamantina leads HMAS Tarakan and HMAS Labuan as they begin to berth alongside Honiara for Operation RENDER SAFE 2013.

HMAS Diamantina leads HMAS Tarakan and HMAS Labuan as they begin to berth alongside Honiara for Operation RENDER SAFE 2013.

He said Solomon Islands saw some of the fiercest fighting of the WWII Pacific campaign, and the legacy of war surrounds the local population on a daily basis, impacting development and safety.

Once fully established, the task force will embark on an extensive community engagement program throughout the primary operating areas of Guadalcanal and the Russell Islands in order to locate and dispose of the explosive hazards which remain after nearly 70 years.

Operation RENDER SAFE is an enduring Australian Defence Force operation focused on the clearance of explosive remnants of war throughout the region. The operation will run until 6 December 2013.