The Guadalcanal project commenced in May 2011 with the support of the US Department of State and the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) with the main goal being to work with the Solomon Islands Police Force to train and mentor their Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team to CEN IMAS Level II. It is now recognised as one of the premier EOD programs in the South Pacific.
Guadalcanal and the surrounding Solomon Islands were the scene of heavy conflict during World War II. The remnants of this conflict are widespread contamination of Unexploded Ordnance and the threat posed by these life-threatening munitions. These WWII munitions require specific training in order to locate and eliminate. As a result, the team have been trained for CEN International Standards tailored to WWII Munitions.The training for CEN IMAS Level II was completed and the whole team graduated on 1st August 2013.
The overarching aim of the project is to establish the EOD team and the Hell’s Point Range as a central UXO training facility for personnel from all UXO contaminated islands in the South Pacific. Personnel from all of the UXO/ERW contaminated islands within the South Pacific will be able to learn the most appropriate methods to locate and destroy WWII UXO hazards. In many cases this will allow UXO clearance in areas in which it was not possible due to a lack of trained personnel.
Project Leader Mark Lasley, Golden West EOD supervisor is coordinating the training, disposal and infrastructure improvements on site. Lasley has operational experience of supervising EOD, Humanitarian Demining and IED operations across the world and is Master Level EOD.
In addition to the primary goals of the project, there are a number of ancillary benefits to the work in the Solomon Islands.
- The Hell’s point range has undergone substantial developments since May 2011, with improvement to the buildings and training facilities as well as the expansion of the equipment and training aids.
- The training is also coupled with field operations. These operations have resulted in the location and elimination of 10,000 UXO and AXO hazards since the project began. The removal operations are conducted with Golden West’s Mobile Cutting System and Small Arms Burner.
- The project has been provided with a U.S Department of Defence Badger, a mechanical clearance tool that can vastly improve clearance and operational efficiency. The team is trained in both mechanical and manual clearance techniques
- Providing public safety and EOD response within greater Honiara area. Golden West and RSIPF have been responding to EOD and public safety requirements on Guadalcanal. This has not only provided great benefit to the surrounding area but also raised awareness of the EOD team in the local community.
- Training members of the RSIPF EOD in training and mentoring methodologies. As well as training the team in WWII munition disposal, they are also being trained and tested in mentoring. Those that excel in these skills will go on to become the training officers; providing training to personnel from the surrounding islands in South Pacific.
The Solomon Islands Project is made possible by the following donors: