Tuesday, 27 October 2009 4:10 PM

Operation 'Renders Safe' Clears the Deadly Remnants of War in Solomon Islands

The Australian Defence Force has completed the latest in a series of deployments in support of Operation RENDER SAFE, working to rid the Solomon Islands of unexploded ordnance left in the wake of some of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

The latest Operation RENDER SAFE deployment, which finished on the 24th of October, saw HMA Ships Gascoyne and Yarra sail to the Solomon Islands, to dispose of explosives which accumulated in the waters off the South Pacific nation during heavy fighting between allied and Japanese forces in World War II.

Using data from a previous survey performed by the hydrographic ship HMAS Melville, the mine hunters Gascoyne and Yarra and their Ships Companies worked in the waters off the island of Malaita and Shortland Harbour in the Solomon Islands, pinpointing 15 explosive objects on the seabed using the extensive state-of -the-art mine detection systems fitted in both vessels.

A Royal Australian Navy Clearance Dive Team was then able to locate and dispose of the ordnance, which ranged in size from artillery shells through to a large British Mark IV Sea Mine.

Lieutenant General Mark Evans, Chief of Joint Operations Command, said that although the ADF has been involved with explosive ordnance disposal previously in the South Pacific, Operation RENDER SAFE is the first enduring operation of its type.

"The ADF's previous involvement with the removal of unexploded ordnance was on a case-by-case basis such as operations conducted in the Marshall Islands and Kiribati," Lieutenant General Evans said.

"The success of these previous operations and requests to help clear unexploded ordnance has led to the creation of Operation RENDER SAFE - an enduring assistance operation providing explosive ordnance disposal support to South Pacific nations."

Lieutenant General Evans says Operation RENDER SAFE, like Pacific Partnership 2009 and Operations ANODE in Solomon Islands and ASTUTE East Timor, is indicative of the ongoing support offered by the ADF to Australia's South Pacific neighbours.