Nearly 20 tonnes of World War II munitions were destroyed during the Australian Defence Force-led multinational Operation Render Safe in the Solomon Islands this year.
CAPTION: A plume of water dwarfs Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Diamantina as a high-explosive charge is detonated to remove explosive remnants of war during Operation Render Safe 2016 in the Solomon Islands. Photo by Corporal Steve Duncan.
Operation Render Safe aims to remove explosive remnants of war, which continue to pose a potential danger to local communities across the South West Pacific.
Commander of the Australian Contingent, Royal Australian Navy officer Commander Etienne Mulder said that more than 2500 individual munitions were found (18.7 tonnes total) in the waters and land around Honiara, the Russell Islands and Florida Group.
“People have come out of their homes, out of their gardens and as they see people from Render Safe walk past, they’ve actually handed them mortars, grenades, bullets and all sorts of other munitions,” he said.
Over 180 personnel from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom were involved in the operation partnered with members from the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.
Commander Mulder said the operation was a success because of the direct input from the Solomon Islands community.
“We fundamentally rely on the people of the Solomon Islands and also the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force because without them it would take us so much longer to actually identify the ordnance to ensure that it’s safe,” he said.
“Safety of the people leads to increased confidence, both social and economic, and it means growth for tourism and fisheries.
“We are by no means at the end but we are certainly taking a step in the right direction.”
Chief of Joint Operations Vice Admiral David Johnston said Operation Render Safe was an enduring commitment for the Australian Defence Force, which would continue to work closely with community leaders in the Solomon Islands and other countries in the South Pacific to locate, identify and dispose of explosive remnants of war.
“This helps us build upon Australia’s already strong relationships within our region,” he said.
The Australian Defence Force contributed two mine hunter vessels, HMA Ships Diamantina and Huon to the operation as well as explosive ordnance disposal specialists from the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force.
The operation ran from 12 September to 7 October 2016..