Australian Navy divers have lent their expertise to Operation RENDER SAFE this year forming an integral part of the tri-service Amphibious Task Group that were responding to the dangerous legacy of unexploded ordnance located in Torokina, Bougainville Island.
From 22 October until 8 November, divers from Australian Clearance Diving Teams One and Four coordinated undersea disposal of multiple submerged 2,000 pound aircraft bombs as well as three mark 12 sea mines, all remnants of the Second World War.
Able Seaman Clearance Diver Franko Lucic explained that the work of the divers often became a matter of simple logistics when disposing of very large bombs.
In this case it is easier to defuse, move, submerge and dispose of an unexploded bomb four metres underwater than it is to get the appropriate equipment, dig a hole to the appropriate level and cover with an adequate weight of material to minimise fragmentation.
However, for many Pacific communities, these derelict explosive remnants of war remain a deadly threat to their day to day lives and their safe removal is a complicated issue due to the remoteness of these localities. The skill set provided by the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Element was the answer to these complications for their unique underwater expertise in the capability for submerged ordnance detonations.
Able Seaman Lucic added:
In the end the success of RENDER SAFE isn’t only measured in the number of explosive remnants of war safely detonated, but also measured in fostering a positive and lasting relationship with the local communities and the trust that earns us with our neighbours.
Operation RENDER SAFE is Australia’s enduring commitment to regional neighbours in the south west Pacific in the clearance of explosive remnants of war.
Press release, Image: Australian Navy