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

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.

White Beach, Solomon Islands
A Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy Clear­ance Div­er search­es for unex­plod­ed ord­nance at White Beach, Solomon Islands.
Source: Aus­tralian Depart­ment of Defence
Click to enlarge

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. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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