Leading Seaman Combat Specialist Jacob Biddle, from HMNZS Manawanui, helps teachers transfer water from the ship to a tank at Yandina Community High School in the Solomon Islands. Photo: Australian Defence Force
28 September 2016
New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) members in the Solomon Islands to find and dispose of World War II-era unexploded munitions have come to the rescue of a school forced to close because a lack of water.
The crew of HMNZS Manawanui ferried about 2000 litres of water from the diving and mine countermeasures ship to Yandina Community High School, which had been forced to close after it ran out of water during a dry spring in the Solomon Islands.
“It was an absolute pleasure to help the Yandina community again and the 500 kids who attend the school, while still conducting our Operation Render Safe mission in the area,” Lieutenant Commander (LTCDR) Muzz Kennett, the Commanding Officer of Manawanui, said.
Operation Render Safe, which started on 15 September and ends on 7 October, is a biennial operation led by the Australian Defence Force that aims to dispose safely of World War II explosive remnants of war. About 200 personnel from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Solomon Islands and the United Kingdom are participating.
The water was delivered to the school in a police vehicle the Manawanui crew had delivered to the town only days earlier. Police authorities at Yandina, in the Russell Islands, thanked the crew for transporting the replacement police vehicle, after their lone vehicle had been severely damaged by a falling branch after delivering a Render Safe team to a remote village.
In the first week of the Render Safe operation, the combined multinational teams recovered 1389 items, weighing 3.7 tonnes, of unexploded ordnance.
The team of divers from Manawanui and explosive ordnance disposal experts from the Canadian Defence Force have recovered and detonated safely about 60 unexploded munitions, including a 250-pound bomb, during the operation.
“The island group is littered with ordnance left over from the war, so any way the crew of Manawanui can help out will make their lives a bit safer,” Chief Petty Officer Diver Rangi Ehu said.