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VMF and Australian Army dispose of WWII ammunition

THE bombs went BOOM in north Efate yesterday as a team of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) specialists from the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) and the Australian Army conducted demolitions to safely destroy World War Two ordnance that has been discovered in Malapoa Estate a fortnight ago.

The Australian Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal personal and members of the Vanuatu Mobile Force prepare unexploded ordnance for destruction as part of Operation Render Safe.

The unexploded ordnance, which was identified as 12x 75mm High Explosive Point-Detonating field artillery rounds, were uncovered by rain on a roadside just two metres from a Malapoa residence. The site was initially secured by the VMF and investigated by the VMF’s EOD trained Force Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Class One, Joshua Bong.

At the request of Commander VMF, Colonel Robson Iavro, the ADF initiated an Operation RENDER SAFE activity and deployed a team of three members from the Australian Army’s 20th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron and one Australian Army medical support specialist to assist the VMF to safely remove and dispose of the hazardous munitions.

“We are very pleased and grateful for the swift response from the ADF”, Colonel Iavro said. “The Australian Army team arrived in Port Vila last week and worked tirelessly over the weekend with the VMF Force Sergeant Major to prepare for the demolition task today.”

Captain Hugo Severin, Commander of the Australian Army Team advised that the 12 rounds from Malapoa as well as other munitions, small arms remnants and other explosive material that had been previously handed-in to VMF by members of the community and secured at Cook Barracks had now been safely destroyed.

“The operation was great success and culminated in the safe demolition of all hazardous items. We would like to highlight the excellent investigation conducted by Warrant Officer Bong which assisted our preparations in Australia. It has been terrific to work in partnership with our friends and colleagues in the Vanuatu Mobile Force,” Captain Severin said.

Captain Severin highlighted that although 73 years have passed since the end of the Second World War, the threat of unexploded ordnance across the South West Pacific remains.

“We continue to work closely with our Pacific neighbours to manage and remove these potential dangers; to ensure the safety of the local population through the elimination of risks from unstable and unsafe explosives,” Captain Severin said.

Operation RENDER SAFE is the name of the enduring ADF commitment to the South West Pacific to assist nations with the removal of explosive remnants of war that continue to pose a potential danger.

Australia is committed to assisting Pacific Island countries in disposing of unexploded remnants of war and is focused on reducing the substantial threat while providing education and training to build on national security capabilities.