The Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator David Feeney, today announced that more than 150 personnel from the Australian Defence Force, New Zealand Defence Force and Papua New Guinea Defence Force will begin Operation RENDER SAFE, an explosives ordnance disposal activity aimed at unexploded World War Two ammunition in Papua New Guinea this week.
The ADF’s enduring peace-time mission, Operation RENDER SAFE 2011, will be conducted over the period 18 October – 4 November in Rabaul, PNG, and will involve the identification, assessment and rendering safe of unexploded ordnance.
Senator Feeney said the operation was vital to providing a safe environment in Rabaul, which relies heavily on international tourism.
“Unexploded ordnance such as torpedoes, grenades, bombs and projectiles are regularly discovered in very public locations such as domestic yards, the local police station and along the shoreline,” Senator Feeney said.
“These remnants of war are an enduring and unpredictable threat to the safety of locals and tourists and we are pleased to play an active role in making the Rabaul area safer for all.”
Royal Australian Navy Commander Scott Craig, Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force 663, said the operation would be bolstered by Australia’s HMA Ships Gascoyne and Diamantina and New Zealand’s HMNZ Ships Resolution and Wellington, providing important underwater surveying capability.
“The cooperation between the three participating nations will provide a great service to the people of Rabaul as well as provide Defence personnel an opportunity to work side by side,” Commander Craig said.
“Working closely with local communities to recognise and identify items of unexploded ordnance will be a key part of the operation.”
Operation RENDER SAFE 2011 will also involve a tasking to clear unexploded ordnance from the Kokoda Track.
Although the ADF 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 2009, Operation RENDER SAFE provided explosive ordnance disposal assistance to the Solomon Islands.
Lorna Clarke – 0408 345 730
Defence Media Operations 02 6127 1999