Church bell to ring again following assistance from Operation RENDER SAFE 2014

Published on CAPT Chris Rickey (author), CPL Matthew Bickerton (photographer)

Location(s): Bougainville Island

Topic(s): Operation RENDER SAFE

Now a clear space with spire and altar repositioned, the former Catholic Mission Church site in Torokina, Bougainville, was cleared of structural debris following two days of work by members of HMAS CHOULES ship's company during Operation RENDER SAFE 14. (photo: CPL Matthew Bickerton)
Now a clear space with spire and altar repositioned, the former Catholic Mission Church site in Torokina, Bougainville, was cleared of structural debris following two days of work by members of HMAS CHOULES ship's company during Operation RENDER SAFE 14.

Operation RENDER SAFE 2014, currently underway in the Torokina district of Bougainville, is not just about disposing of Explosive Remnants of War.
 
Following extensive engagement with community leaders it emerged that the site of a former Catholic Mission church, which had lain in ruins for several years, could be redeveloped.
 
Before the community could undertake any work however, the site needed to be cleared of significant structural debris.
 
Enter a small group of Marine Technicians from HMAS Choules who were eager to take on the task. Leading Seaman Jason Chamberlain said no one hesitated when the call went out for assistance.

Members of HMAS Choules ship's company put the finishing touches to the former Catholic Mission Church bell during a community assistance project undertaken as part of Operation RENDER SAFE 14 in Torokina, Bougainville.

Members of HMAS Choules ship's company put the finishing touches to the former Catholic Mission Church bell during a community assistance project undertaken as part of Operation RENDER SAFE 14 in Torokina, Bougainville.


 
"We basically put our team together and brought ashore all of our oxy-acetylene gear and got to work cutting up and removing all the metal and steel from the church site," he said.
 
"The residents here indicated they wanted the church spire and stone altar preserved, which we have also done."
 
The RENDER SAFE Command team gave the technicians three days to complete the project, in the end it took only two.
 
"Just sweeping the concrete pad, tidying up and painting the church bell frame and the large cross located at the front of the site is left to do.
 
"Many of us spent time on Manus Island last year and while it's not as hot here as it was in Manus, it's still very challenging and you definitely need to keep hydrated," Leading Seaman Chamberlain said.
 
"It's really worthwhile though, you don't want to come all this way and then just view the operation from the ship.
 
“It doesn't matter how hot it is, you are potentially only here once."
 
Operation RENDER SAFE is an Australian Defence Force led, ongoing peacetime operation focussed on reducing the threat of Explosive Remnants of War to the people of the South West Pacific. This year the operation includes Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams from the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and Solomon Islands.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20141718.