By Aloysius Laukai
Two Royal Australian Navy vessels, HMAS BENALLA and HMAS SHERPPARTON are scheduled to arrive in Bougainville IN TWO DAYS TIME and this is no cause of alarm for Bougainvilleans as they are here at the invitation of the ABG.
These two ships will conduct a hydrographical survey of the waters between Buka island and Torokina in South West Bougainville.
According to the ABG VICE PRESIDENT, PATRICK NISIRA, the presence of the two vessels is part of a major exercise by the Australian Government to dispose all unexploded Bombs and ammunitions from World War Two.
MR. NISIRA says that the Australian Government’s assistance is in response to the ABG’s request from March 2013 to see the complete disposal of these ordinances from the area before referendum.
He said that consultations between the ABG, the Papua New Guinea and Australian governments in June last year resulted in the commencement of Operation Render Safe in October of the same year with the Australian Defence Force an aerial survey of the chartered waters.
A team from the Australian Defence Force has already visited the site last year to establish logistic and support requirements for the operation.
The Australian Navy’s visit will be the third phase of the preliminary preparations leading to the actual removal and disposal of unexploded ordinances which will begin in October this year.
MR. NISIRA said that the ship’s will make sure the route used on Operation Render Safe is cleared for moving of supplies, equipments and personnel between Buka and Torokina.
The two ships will chart the depth of the water, mark any obstructions and determine suitable anchorage points for ships involved in the operation.
He said that the data gathered from this survey will be shared with the PNG MARITIME SAFETY AUTHORITY and the ABG to provide accurate charts of our waters and ensure the safety of passenger and cargo vessels sailing these waters.