First operation opens eyes for Seaman

This article has photo gallery Published on CAPT Anna Rosendahl (author), CPL Steve Duncan (photographer)

Location(s): Honiara, Solomon Islands

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

Royal Australian Navy Seaman Tuan Nguyen at his console in the operations room aboard HMAS Diamantina during Operation Render Safe 2016 in the Solomon Islands. (photo: CPL Steve Duncan)
Royal Australian Navy Seaman Tuan Nguyen at his console in the operations room aboard HMAS Diamantina during Operation Render Safe 2016 in the Solomon Islands.

A Parramatta man has been helping find unexploded Second World War munitions in the Solomon Islands during an Australian Defence Force led multinational operation.
 
Royal Australian Navy Seaman Tuan Nguyen has been involved in Operation RENDER SAFE, an ongoing commitment to disposing explosive remnants of war in the South Pacific.
 
The 28 year old Combat Systems Operator Mine Warfare is posted to the mine hunter HMAS Diamantina, which found and destroyed around one and a half tonnes of old projectiles during the operation.
 
Seaman Nguyen said he was glad to be making a difference.
 
“It makes it safer for everyone, there’s so much around here, kids are walking around and there’s old rounds and grenades; that could cause death or serious injury,” he said.
 
“When we go around the different islands, people are so happy to see us.
 
“It shows that you are doing something good for the community, helping them out and making it a lot safer.”
 
Seaman Nguyen mans a sonar consol where he looks out for objects that could be Second World War ordnance.
 
“The sonar gets dropped down and can go a few hundred metres if it needs to,” he said.
 
“Divers won’t be able to go down that low so we mark it, and to see what it is, we send the mine disposal vehicle down and can use our charges to get rid of what’s underneath.”
 
The Greystanes St Paul’s Catholic College graduate worked in security for several years before deciding to join the Defence Force.
 
He has been in the Navy for around year and a half and RENDER SAFE is his first operation.
 
“It’s been awesome, travelling around all these islands and getting to do some things you don’t get to do in civvie street, things like looking for Second World War ordnance,” he said.
 
He’s posted to HMAS Diamantina for another two years.
 
“Time is flying;  I thought being away for so long wouldn’t be as great but we have a good crew, a good boss and what we’re doing is awesome, so it just makes time tick over really fast,” he said.
 
Over 10 tonnes or 2,500 individual items of explosive remnants of war were destroyed in the first two weeks of the operation around Honiara, the Russell Islands and Florida Group.
 
Over 180 personnel from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom took part in the activity which concluded on 7 October.