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November 21, 2013 www.defence.gov.au/news/NAVYNEWS
LEUT Tony White
AS THE only domestic violence refuge
in Solomon Islands, the Christian Care
Centre near Honiara plays an important
role in the local community.
This role will now be a little easier
thanks to the Navy-led Operation Render
The centre was established by the
Sisters of the Anglican Church of
Melanesia 10 years ago as a response to
the increase in violence against women.
Since 2004, the centre has been run
by the diminutive but formidable Sister
Doreen. While she has a reputation for
bending the ear of the rich and powerful
in support of victims, there is one task
that is beyond her -- the clearing of unex-
ploded ordnance around the centre.
The centre overlooks Red Beach,
immortalised in US Marine history and
the scene of intense fighting during the
Guadalcanal campaign in WWII.
Sister Doreen said it was not unusual
for women living at the centre to find
unexploded bombs while working in the
garden or even for children to bring her
a decaying but potentially dangerous gre-
Members of the taskforce are also
working to refurbish parts of the centre
as part of their support to Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade activities and
as part of their commitments to White
Sister Doreen explained that living
with the presence of unexploded ordnance
was made more risky by some of the
necessities of the Melanesian lifestyle.
The fertile soils and tropical climate
mean that a part of daily village life is taken
up with the hand clearing of resilient under-
growth around houses and food gardens.
This has traditionally been assisted
by the use of fire and as Sister Doreen
puts it, "It is perfectly normal for a six or
seven year old to light fires as part of the
Melanesian way of life."
CO Operation Render Safe CMDR
Doug Griffiths said the use of fire pre-
sented an additional risk to local commu-
"This was brought home to us the
day before we first visited Sister Doreen,
when an old US shell exploded during a
burn off not far from Sister Doreen's cen-
tre," CMDR Griffiths said.
"We were able to go in and clear a sig-
nificant number of other shells from that
area to reduce risk in future burn offs.
"We are working on many sites across
the country clearing unexploded ord-
nance, but the opportunity to combine our
normal work with the good work of Sister
Doreen, supporting the victims of domes-
tic violence, is one that we hope will cre-
ate a lasting legacy of our presence here."
LEUT Tony White
PERSONNEL from Australia,
Canada, New Zealand, the US and
Solomon Islands are taking part in
Operation Render Safe, which start-
ed on November 8 and will end on
Render Safe is an ongoing
Australian-led operation to safely
dispose of large amounts of explo-
sive remnants of war.
The Australian High
Commissioner to Solomon Islands,
Matt Anderson, welcomed the
task force to Solomon Islands on
Combined Joint Task Force 663,
(CJTF 663) is working with some of
the most skilled explosive ordnance
disposal (EOD) technicians in the
Commander CJTF 663 CMDR
Doug Griffiths said the Royal
Solomon Islands Police Force
(RSIPF) was known as the "gold
standard" of EOD across the south-
west Pacific region.
"We will be working with people
who have grown up living with the
threat of explosive remnants of war,
but we will also be giving them an
important boost in their capacity
to make a dent in the huge amount
of unexploded ordnance around the
national capital and in some of the
outlying islands," CMDR Griffiths
said.Mr Anderson told members of
the task force that their contribution
was important to the local economy
"You are going to make a real
difference working with some
extraordinary people," he said.
"You are returning to the
Solomon Islanders land that they
can use to grow produce, create
businesses, educate their kids and
change their lives."
Less than 24 hours after the
establishment of the operation
headquarters in Honiara, the team
located and made safe 21 pieces of
unexploded WWII ordnance near
Honiara International Airport.
CMDR Griffiths was pleased
with the seamless cooperation of the
"The ability to partner with ele-
ments of the RSIPF allowed us to
share best practices and learn from
each other," he said.
"This year, the RSIPF EOD ele-
ment has disposed of nearly 11,000
individual pieces of explosive ord-
CMDR Griffiths said HMA
Ships Diamantina, Labuan and
Tarakan, would play roles in the
month-long operations, including
providing opportunities for training
with emergency services.
At sea, Labuan worked with
local communities on Tulagi Island
to identify unexploded ordnance.
The ordnance is a legacy of
Tulagi's WWII role as a Japanese
naval refuelling, communications
and seaplane reconnaissance base.
The combination of clear water
and large number of artefacts makes
for good diving in the area but the
scale of bombardment during the
war means locals have been living
with many dangerous unexploded
bombs ever since.
Specialists operating from
Labuan worked with high technol-
ogy remote sensing devices to map
the items on the sea floor over the
course of the week.
Task force comes to
aid of care centre
HMAS Tobruk has been diverted
from her current goodwill tasking
in Solomon Islands to Townsville
to be available to support relief and
recovery efforts if requested by the
Tobruk is ideally suited to assist
given her amphibious heavy lift
capability, onboard accommodation
and ability to support helicopter and
landing craft operations.
The Australian Government
will provide a further $20 million
and deploy additional ADF logistic
support to help the Philippines to
respond to Typhoon Haiyan, bring-
ing total Australian assistance to
more than $30 million.
The additional funds will be
used to address serious nutrition,
child health and protection needs,
purchase emergency foods and pro-
vide logistic support and non-food
Two Air Force aircraft,
a C-17A Globemaster and a
C-130J Hercules, deployed to the
Philippines on November 13 to
assist the relief effort. Both trans-
ported Australian doctors, nurses,
paramedics, other medical special-
ists and ADF logistic support staff.
The C-130J transferred the med-
ical personnel and equipment from
Cebu to Tacloban.
Defence has assigned an addi-
tional C-130J Hercules and stands
ready to deploy a second C-17A
Globemaster if required.
Providing safe drinking water
and power is now critical. The ADF
has moved to provide water purifica-
tion systems and power generators
Tobruk ready for relief work if needed
HELPING HAND: ABCSO Michael Burgess digs a trench for a water pipeline
at the Christian Care Centre in Honiara.
SHIPS AHOY: HMAS Diamantina leads
HMA Ships Tarakan and Labuan as they
prepare to berth alongside Honiara for
Operation Render Safe.
Photos: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez
ON THE JOB: Special sea dutymen heave on aft lines of HMAS Diamantina as she berths alongside
Honiara (above left) and some of the explosive ordnance found is ready for disposal (above right).
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