Divers take the lead in RENDER SAFE 2013

Published on LCDR Richard Caton (author), ABIS Sarah Williams (photographer)

Location(s): Solomon Islands

Topic(s): Operation RENDER SAFE

File image: (L-R) PO Max Rivu, CPL Joshua Irvine, LS Medic Crosdale, ABCD Jesse McMichael, PO Daniel Koim and SMNCD Brent McGregor with a collection of WWII Japanese 75mm projectiles found in a cave during Operation RENDER SAFE 2011, in Rabaul, PNG. (photo: ABIS Sarah Williams)
File image: (L-R) PO Max Rivu, CPL Joshua Irvine, LS Medic Crosdale, ABCD Jesse McMichael, PO Daniel Koim and SMNCD Brent McGregor with a collection of WWII Japanese 75mm projectiles found in a cave during Operation RENDER SAFE 2011, in Rabaul, PNG.

Operation RENDER SAFE 2013 is on track to begin next month.

The mission is a standing Australian Defence Force (ADF) operation to help remove the explosive remnants of war from the South Pacific. This year Solomon Islands is the focus, the task is to continue removing ordnance left behind 68 years ago.

Commander Doug Griffiths, Commander Australian Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Task Force will lead the mission. He said community engagement during a recent site survey was vital to the success of the program.

“Successful community engagement is our priority,” Commander Griffiths said.

“Historically, the locals know where the ordnance is located and in many cases have lived with the threat in their villages for years.

“The Solomon Island Government has identified the locations we’ll work in, and we rely on residents to narrow down the ordnance sites.

Commander Griffiths said this year 200 personnel from all three services would be joined by clearance divers from the Royal New Zealand Navy, United States Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy. The mission will be supported by a Royal Solomon Island Police Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team.

Maritime assets will be HMA Ships Diamantina, Tarakan and Labuan and with Clearance Divers from HMAS Yarra and AUSCDT One, the Mine Warfare Geospatial Deployable Support Team (MGDST) with a REMUS 100 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and a Solomon Islands Pacific Patrol Boat.

Commander Griffiths said the success of Operation RENDER SAFE 2013 would be the ability of the mission to remove unexploded remnants of war and educate Solomon Islanders about the dangers of these devices.

The Operation RENDER SAFE 2013 team will work closely with the RAMSI Participating Police Force (PPF) and lend capacity to AusAID assisting in community engagement in the health and educations sectors.

Operation RENDER SAFE 2013 will take place across Solomon Islands throughout November.

File image: A plume of volcanic ash marks the first disposal of unexploded ordnance during Operation RENDER SAFE 2011, in Rabaul, PNG.

File image: A plume of volcanic ash marks the first disposal of unexploded ordnance during Operation RENDER SAFE 2011, in Rabaul, PNG.