Home' Air Force News : November 24th 2011 Contents 13
November 24, 2011
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AIR Force personnel helped remove wartime
unexploded munitions (UXO) in Papua New
Guinea during Operation Render Safe from
October 18 to November 5.
The operation removed more than 2000
items, including more than five tonnes of
explosives from populated areas in East New
CMDR Scott Craig, commander of the
joint ADF task force of more than 150 per-
sonnel, said munitions were removed from
under buildings, in and around local vil-
lages, plantations, Japanese tunnels and in
CMDR Craig said the latest technology
was used to detect underwater and land-
"To make sure local villages are not dam-
aged when we render safe the ordnance, we
relocate most munitions to a safe demoli-
tion site before detonating it with explosive
charges," CMDR Craig said.
CMDR Craig said a request from the
Kokoda Track Authority during the plan-
ning stage of the operation led to Air Force
personnel taking part in neutralising UXOs at
Myola and Owers Corner on the Kokoda Track
over a two-day period.
RAAF EOD technician SGT Sean
O'Rourke, of 1 Airfield Operations Support
Squadron, said the Kokoda Track task was
his highlight for Op Render Safe.
"It was great to be able to make those
parts of the Kokoda Track safer for both the
locals and visiting trekkers," SGT O'Rourke
The Kokoda team spent the night as
guests of the Myola villagers before relocat-
ing to Owers Corner at the beginning of the
"The locals were very happy to see us.
They offered great hospitality and followed
us while we trekked back and forth on our
jobs," SGT O'Rourke said.
"No one who conducted this task has
ever walked the entire Kokoda Track and it
has ignited a desire in many of us to revisit
and cover the entire distance."
The Op Render Safe mission for the
ADF, New Zealand and PNG military mem-
bers was to clear WWII UXOs from regu-
larly used areas and underwater near Rabaul
and East New Britain.
CMDR Craig said the focus had been
to identify the most dangerous items near
populated areas and deal with them first.
The process was repeated several times
during the operation with bombs as large
as a thousand pounds being blown in place
when it has been impossible to recover them
from ravines in the jungle near plantations
Op Render Safe also led to the significant
discovery of a previously uncharted wreck
later suspected as a WWII Japanese submarine.
SPR Nick Wiseman
UNEXPLODED ordnance (UXO)
discovered in the first stages of the
Quail Island Air Weapons Range
hazard reduction project in the
Northern Territory was destroyed
last month by an ADF team.
MAJ Geoff Robinson,
WOFF Jeremy Musk, FSGT
Peter Douglass, SGT Andrew
Rawlinson and CPL Chris Blacker
disposed of the ordnance locat-
ed by civilian contractor G-Tek
Australia Pty Ltd.
The island was used from
1945 until 1979 for air-to-ground
bombing, rocketry and gunnery
practice and also used by the
RAAF and other Allied air forces
MAJ Robinson said surface
UXOs had been disposed of over
the years but how many UXOs
would be uncovered by the clear-
ance was unknown. "Eleven items
uncovered by the civilian con-
tractor were believed to contain
explosive," MAJ Robinson said.
"Seven of those were found to
contain high explosives and were
disposed of accordingly."
The UXOs were found on
the surface and at shallow search
depths of up to 0.7m with more
expected to be found at depths of
up to 3m when a further search is
done during the next dry season.
Demolition operator CPL
Chris Blacker, of RAAF Base
Darwin, said he really enjoyed
his time as part of the demolition
"It gave me a chance to main-
tain my explosive ordnance
qualifications and get out of the
office," CPL Blacker said.
"Work like this gives you an
appreciation for explosive ord-
Blasts from the past
Making Quail Island safe
DEMOLITION MAN: CPL Chris
Blacker prepares to place some
charge blocks.Photo: AB James Whittle
THERE SHE BLOWS #1: WWII
ordnance collected from around East
New Britain Province is disposed of by
remote detonation. Photo: CWO3 Fred Lieder THERE SHE BLOWS #2: Detonations of unexploded ordnance on Quail Island in the
Photo: AB James Whittle
CAREFUL PREPARATIONS: Armament technician CPL Joshua Irvine stacks
sandbags around a WWII thousand-pound bomb in preparation to detonating it.
Photo: AB Sarah Williams
THERE SHE BLOW S #1 WWII
Papua New Guinea
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