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August 5, 2010
Divers at work in Solomons
GOOD TO GO: (Main)
CPOCD Luke Graham
talks with ABCD Jeremy
Coffey during an EOD
mission at White Beach
in the Solomon Islands.
Unexploded ordnance is
disposed of under water
at White Beach.
Photos: LAC Christopher
By CPL Zenith King
A TEAM of 14 Clearance Divers
recently deployed to the Solomon
Islands to assist the Royal Solomon
Island Police Force (RSIPF) with
the disposal of WWII ammunition
AUSCDT One has been working
with the RSIPF, assisting with the
disposal of thousands of tonnes of
ammunition and explosive ordnance
that are a constant danger to locals.
The WWII remnants found in this
region of the Pacific were fired but
didn't detonate, or were abandoned
by Japanese or Allied forces.
White Beach on Russell Island is
one of the locations AUSDCT One
sailors worked in during their time in
the Solomon Islands.
POCD Grant Smith said the team
spent two days in each location
where they determined if the unex-
ploded ordnance was active or inac-
tive before being destroyed.
"When we are under water we
inspect the ammunition to determine
if it is safe to be moved to a disposal
area," POCD Smith said.
"Once we have accumulated
enough ordnance we begin our sur-
face calculations in preparation for
"We account for every item by
measuring and researching them to
find out the explosive quantity. From
there we calculate safety distances."
Police are informed 24 hours
in advance, allowing time to make
communities aware that destruction
of explosive ordnance is being con-
ducted in their area.
In the past 12 months, more than
10 islanders are known to have been
either maimed or killed attempting
to harvest explosives. Many of them
were young children or fathers try-
ing to provide for their families.
Senior Sergeant Emanuel
Maepurina and his RSIPF dive team
have received the majority of their
explosive ordnance disposal (EOD)
training from AUSCDT One in the
"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 unex-
ploded ordnance," Senior Sergeant
"Every piece of ordnance we
remove is potentially a life saved."
Many of the islanders who are
killed or maimed every year are the
result of stepping on old mines or
simply during agricultural activity.
POCD Smith said a significant
number of deaths occurred when
islanders tried to harvest cordite,
using hacksaws or angle grinders, to
make fish bombs.
The fish bombs are thrown into
the water in an attempt to shock or
"If they are successful they are
able to feed their family and make
money from selling the fish; if they
are unsuccessful the results can be
devastating," POCD Smith said.
For POCD Smith, the best part of
the trip was seeing his team do their
job for real.
"Many of the boys haven't done
this since their basic dive course.
"From where we started to where
we are now is amazing. You can see
the change and how much better
they have become at their job. They
are more efficient and confident.
"When we do the training back
in Australia we use brand new ord-
nance, straight out of the box. They
are easier to assess and easy to stack.
Here, the ordnance is covered in
coral and weed, so it can be difficult,
and things may not necessarily go
according to plan.
"If we can move the projectiles
we do, but trying to stack them is
difficult and can become a little like
Any areas the team is unable to
deal with during its visit are being
AUSCDT One is photographing
the areas and identifying ordnance
in order to provide as much detail
as possible to prepare the next group
who come through.
The team has disposed more than
400 high-explosive projectiles dur-
ing its time in the Solomon Islands.
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