More than 200 personnel from the Australian Defence Force, New Zealand Defence Force, United States Navy, Canada and Solomon Islands will begin an Australian-led explosive ordnance disposal operation in Solomon Islands this week.
Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Ash Power said that the mission, known as Operation RENDER SAFE, would involve the identification, assessment and disposal of unexploded ordnance.
“The Solomon Islands saw some of the fiercest fighting of World War II, so it is hardly surprising that a great deal of unexploded ordnance still litters many of the islands to this day.
“These remnants of war are an enduring and unpredictable threat to the safety of the locals. We are pleased to be able to play an active role in making the Solomon Islands area safer for all,” Lieutenant General Power said.
Commander of the Joint Task Force for Operation RENDER SAFE, Commander Doug Griffiths, RAN said the inclusion of international participants will provide an excellent opportunity for our forces to compare training and skills in a demanding environment.
“The cooperation between the participating nations will provide a great service to the people of Solomon Islands as well as providing Defence personnel an opportunity to work side-by-side.
“Working closely with the local communities to recognise and identify items of unexploded ordnance will be a key part of the operation,” Commander Griffiths said.
Although the Australian Defence Force has historically conducted explosive ordnance disposal in the South Pacific, including Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, Operation RENDER SAFE is the first enduring operation of its type.
In 2011, Operation RENDER SAFE provided explosive ordnance disposal assistance to Papua New Guinea, including along the Kokoda Track.
The operation will be conducted from 29 October to 7 December.
Commander Griffiths will be available for phone interviews. Please submit requests for interview via mediaops [at] defence.gov.au for consideration.
A pre-recorded video message from Commander Griffiths will be fed to the Parliamentary Press Gallery later today.
Imagery of Commander Griffiths will be available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20131690
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999