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Source: New Zealand Defence Force

31 October 2019

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has sent 21 explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) experts to help the Australian Defence Force and Royal Solomon Islands Police Force remove unexploded Second World War explosives in the Solomon Islands.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said an initial reconnaissance of the Western Province area located an estimated 500 items, and sending both maritime and land NZDF experts meant ordnance located underwater and on land could be dealt with effectively.

“This operation not only assists the people of the Solomon Islands by removing potentially dangerous remnants of war, but provides real world clearance experience for our teams,” Rear Admiral Gilmour said. “We have a capable EOD team made up of HMNZS Matataua’s Clearance Dive Group and land-based Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel.

“We’re pleased to be able to assist the Solomon Islands with this, and always enjoy working in the Pacific with our Australian colleagues.”

NZDF Senior National Officer of the operation Lieutenant Shaun Heaslip said the Kiwis trained with the Australian Defence Force in Brisbane before deploying to Western Province in the Solomon Islands.

“This ensured we were well prepared and aware of how the Australians carry out this type of work,” Lieutenant Heaslip said.

“The team are enjoying the challenge, because carrying out real clearances is what we train for. It’s great to be able to put the years of learning towards making the New Georgia Islands, part of Western Province, a safer place.”

The NZDF last supported this operation, called Operation Render Safe, in 2016, when a Royal New Zealand Navy Clearance Dive Group worked with a Canadian detachment to destroy 50 unexploded Second World War-era munitions, including a 250-pound bomb.

The operation, which started this week, will run for two weeks.