The activities will include humanitarian aid and disaster response planning and training, infrastructure projects on the Western border in cooperation with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), and Operation Render Safe 2019.
Australian Defence Force (ADF) members held workshops and a table top exercise with participants from several Solomon Islands agencies and the Natural Disaster Management Office (NDMO), to enhancing planning skills when responding to natural disasters.
ADF tradespeople will also be engaged in construction tasks on Shortland Island near the western border, assisting to maintain and enhance infrastructure for the RSIPF.
Task Group Commander Colonel Kim Gilfillan said that Solomon Islands police were a highly capable force with an in-depth knowledge of the region, and that assisting them with infrastructure is a mutually beneficial partnership.
“The ADF and the RSIPF have a great relationship, we help each other wherever we can, whether it’s with construction or a transfer of knowledge,” Colonel Gilfillan said.
HMAS Adelaide will then set sail to engage with a number of neighbouring islands and begin conducting Operation Render Safe 2019.
The RSIPF participates in Operation Render Safe every second year, working together with the Australian and New Zealand Defence Force to safely dispose of Second World War explosives.
The combined team is focussing their efforts on removing explosive remnants of the Second World War, identified during the course of the year by the RSIPF.
Colonel Gilfillan stressed the importance of combined activities like Render Safe as one of the Australian Defence Force’s enduring commitments to remove explosive remnants of war in Solomon Islands.
“Australia is pleased to be able to partner with Solomon Islands in their endeavours to increase the security of their natural and economic resources, and preparation to respond to natural disasters,” Colonel Gilfillan said.
“Combined partnership activities such as these enhance our shared values of family and way of life, as well as the potential to assist Pacific nations to build and improve on areas such as underwater tourism.”
HMAS Adelaide will support personnel as they undertake clearance and disposal activities around Vella Lavella Island, Gizo, Kolombangara Island, Vonavona Island and North-west New Georgia Island.
Colonel Gilfillan outlined the vast array of personnel and equipment that will operate from the ship for the operation.
“In keeping with our valued joint partnerships, on board HMAS Adelaide we have members from all three services of the Australian Defence Force including Army, Air Force and Navy, as well as New Zealand Defence Force and our key partner from the RSIPF,” Colonel Gilfillan said.
“This mix of personnel includes Padres and Chaplains and experts in the fields of explosive ordinance and engineering, amphibious landing craft, Army and Navy helicopters, heavy machinery, underwater survey and clearance dive teams, medical support, mentoring and training teams, and humanitarian and disaster relief planners.”
Joint Task Force 637 is a key part of the Australian Defence Force’s support to the Australia’s Pacific Step-up, aiming to strengthen enduring relationships among Pacific nations so they can share knowledge and tackle common challenges.