Australian Navy clearance divers mentor Royal Solomon Islands Police in explosive ordnance disposal

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Clearance Divers are conducting training exercises with Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Divers in the critical role of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) at White Beach in the Solomon Islands.

Thousands of unexploded ordnance remain scattered throughout the Solomon Islands and associated waterways from the fierce battles fought in the area between the Japanese and US and Australian forces during WWII.

Senior Sergeant Emanuel Maepurina (Dive Team Leader), Sergeant John Mirikale and Constable Peleni Slestin of the RSIPF have been receiving the majority of their EOD training in the Russell Islands.

"Approximately 15 Solomon Islanders lose their lives every year due to explosive ordnance," said Constable Peleni Selestin. "This is a very dangerous problem for the Solomon Islands and we are working hard to make it safer." Constable Selestin has been a RSIPF Diver for four years and received his EOD training through the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

"I received my training with the School of Military Engineering in 2007," he said. "I enjoy working with the ADF and the mentoring and assistance they provide is invaluable to our ongoing RSIPF EOD operations."

Constable Slestin's team leader, Senior Sergeant Emanuel Maepurina agrees.

"The RSIPF only has a small team of seven divers and the assistance and mentorship of the Australians is a great help in our efforts to find and remove unexploded ordnance... every piece of ordnance we remove is potentially a life saved."

White Beach Village, the site of a former US Marine Base, was chosen for the exercise due to the high volume of ex-WWII explosives in the area.

"Tragically four people were killed last year in the area from unexploded munitions," said Constable Selestin. "The local village understand what we are trying to do and are very supportive. It is our hope that our work will mean one day they can cultivate their crops and enjoy their area without fear."

White Beach Village Chief, Mr John Ramo, was very appreciative of the efforts of the divers. "We are very happy to have them here," he said. "They are very welcome and we are very happy with the work they are doing."

After clearing the area and ensuring that no one was in the danger zone, the unexploded munitions were detonated in a controlled explosion.

The RAN Clearance Divers are in the Solomon Islands in support of Operation ANODE - the ADF contribution to the Australian led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

Earlier this month, the ADF also sent an EOD detachment to Nauru to dispose of six unexploded ordnance as part of Operation RENDER SAFE. Operation RENDER SAFE is Defence's enduring operation to provide EOD support to South Pacific Island nations for the disposal of unexploded ordnance.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 27 July 2010 )