New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel are to travel to the Solomon Islands to take part in a large-scale disposal of around 500 unexploded World War II devices.
Some 21 explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) experts will help the Australian Defence Force and the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force remove the unexploded devices.
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 could also 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.”
Senior National Officer of the operation, Lieutenant Shaun Heaslip said the Kiwis trained with the Australian Defence Force in Brisbane before deploying to 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 NZDF last supported ordinance clearing, called Operation Render Safe, in 2016, when a Clearance Dive Group worked with a Canadian detachment to destroy 50 unexploded munitions, including a 250-pound bomb.