Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 6 2010 Contents 14 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
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The people of the Solomon Islands have been left with a dangerous legacy from the Second World
War and the Royal Australian Navy is working hard to provide a safer future.
assistance in the Solomons
Thousands of unexploded ordnance remains
scattered throughout the Solomon Islands and
from the fierce battles fought there between the
Japanese, US and Australian forces during WWII.
Navy Clearance Divers conducted training
exercises with Royal Solomon Islands Police Force
(RSIPF) Divers in the critical role of Explosive
Ordnance Disposal (EOD) at White Beach.
RSIPF Divers Senior Sergeant Emanuel Maepurina
(Dive Team Leader), Sergeant John Mirikale and
Constable Peleni Selestin have been receiving
the majority of their EOD training in the Russell
“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
The Regional assistance Mission to
solomon Islands (RaMsI)
Operation ANODE is the name of the ADF
contribution to the Australian-led Regional
Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
RAMSI’s assistance is known as Operation HELPEM
FREN (Pidgin English for ‘Helping Friend’). RAMSI’s
mission is to assist the Solomon Islands Government
in restoring law and order, economic governance,
and improving the machinery of government.
The military component of RAMSI is comprised of
personnel from four troop-contributing nations –
Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and
The main task for the military component is
to provide security for RAMSI’s multinational
Participating Police Force (PPF) that works alongside
the Royal Solomon Islands Police in maintaining law
Specialist military staff in RAMSI headquarters
are also deployed to coordinate the multi-national
military effort with the PPF.
The aDF contribution to RaMsI
Since the introduction of RAMSI in 2003, the
number of Australian troops in support has varied
depending on the degree of unrest experienced.
After the rioting that followed the April 2006 general
elections, RAMSI military personnel have continued
their contribution to maintaining a calming effect on
the situation in the Solomon Islands.
Lieutenant Colonel Dave Thompson is the current
commander of the 160-strong Combined Task Force.
The ADF contributes around 80 troops to this Task
Force; drawn primarily from Western Australia’s 13th
The Combined Task Force includes:
› A Multinational Headquarters
› One platoon from the ADF
› One platoon from the NZDF, and
› One platoon from Pacific Island nations.
The second platoon will rotate between the NZDF
and the ADF every eight months. This means in early
2010 Australia will provide two platoons (an extra 30
Since 2007, the ADF has deployed eight Army
Reserve Company groups accounting for more than
800 part-time soldiers. The deployment of these ADF
personnel, at the invitation of the Solomon Islands
Government, aims to ensure the ongoing success of
RAMSI in improving law and order in the Solomon
Islands. Australia remains determined to ensure that
the law and order established in the Solomon Islands
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
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 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
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 ensuing 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
aBOVe LeFT: A Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diver searches for unexploded
ordnance at White Beach, Solomon Islands.
aBOVe RIgHT: Able Seaman Clearance Diver Clinton Hamilton begins his dive for
unexploded ordnance at White Beach, Russell Islands, during an explosive ordnance
disposal training exercise in Solomon Islands.
aBOVe : White Bay Village Chief, John Ramo,
with his son at his home in Solomon Islands.
BeLOW :A large splash is created as unexploded
ordnance is disposed of at White Beach, Solomon
All photos: LAC Christopher Dickson
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