A small team of Royal Australian Navy divers have rendered safe a popular commercial and recreational waterway in Darwin Harbour.
CAPTION: Navy Clearance Dive Team One conduct a search for suspected unexploded ordnance found in the vicinity of the Ship Lift site at Darwin Harbour’s East Arm. Photo by Leading Seaman Shane Cameron.
The team of five deployed from Sydney to Darwin on September 22, following the discovery of suspected unexploded ordnance (UXO) by commercial divers near the Ship Lift development site in the East Arm precinct, Darwin Harbour.
Executive Officer Clearance Dive Team One Lieutenant Matthew Smith said the successful outcome was due to good coordination across stakeholders.
“We were given GPS coordinates from divers who found the UXO and provided a safe exclusion zone in which to operate by the Darwin water police,” Lieutenant Smith said.
“From there we were able to relocate the UXO and carry out what we call a high order detonation. This involves laying plastic explosive on top of the item before a remotely controlled detonation.
“After the controlled detonation, one of our clearance divers conducted an assessment of the site where the explosion occurred to confirm that the UXO had been disposed of successfully and no longer proved to be a hazard to the area and the public.”
Despite corrosion and marine growth, the item was identified as a potential dummy bomb historically used by aircraft in target practice.
With significant tidal streams and low visibility, the two-day search was not without its challenges.
“At its best, visibility was no more than about half a metre,” Lieutenant Smith said.
“But despite the challenge it’s been a great opportunity to apply our skills in a real world scenario.
“It’s also very satisfying to be able to hand the area back to authorities, and the general public, in a safe manner.”
The UXO was found near the development site of an open access multi-user ship lift facility and associated marine industry infrastructure (the SLAMI).
On completion, the facility will be capable of servicing large vessels from industries including coastal shipping, offshore petroleum, fishing, pearling and Australian Border Force and Defence.