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RAN clears potential hazard off South Tarawa

A RAF Hercules was dispatched with Navy divers to deal with an explosive remnant from WWII in Kiribati."

Divers from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have cleared a potentially dangerous object from a lagoon located in the Republic of Kiribati.

The object, believed to be an explosive remnant of World War II, was found by commercial salvage operators in a sunken vessel in Betio Lagoon. South Tarawa is home to dozens of islets and small lagoons, many of which contain hidden explosives and other remains from previous wars.

As soon as locals discovered the object, the Kiribati government requested assistance from the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Personnel were then dispatched to the site of the sunken vessel in a Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules.

Clearance Diving Team Leader, Chief Petty Officer Shaun Elliott, explained the poor visibility during the dive, due to the sea growth and gloomy waters.

"Tarawa was the site of an intense World War II battle where thousands of military personnel were killed or wounded, so the chance of finding unexploded ordnance is a very real possibility," said CPO Elliott.

"The best thing we could do was to dispose of the object."

Removal was necessary, as the community are constantly using the lagoon and inlets for fishing and recreation activities.

"There is no sense in leaving any doubt within the community, so we safely destroyed the object with a small explosive charge," he said.

The operation was undertaken as part of RENDER SAFE, a commitment from the ADF to clear out explosives.

This almost certainly won't be the last time ADF personnel are called back for similar disposal missions, due to the scale of explosives operations in World War II. Numerous countries around the world are still locating munitions.

In France, the farmers during the so-called 'Iron Harvest' unearth tonnes of corroded shells every year.

Interconnect Systems has a comprehensive background in aerospace and defence engineering, being an industry leader for more than 20 years. It provides electrical interconnect products and solutions, including cable and wire harness manufacture.

For more information on the best backshells and cable harness solutions, contact Interconnect Systems today on 1800 812 214.

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