Service members from the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and France participated in Operation Render Safe Nauru in Yaren, Nauru, May 7 to June 1, 2024. Operation Render Safe is an Australian-led operation in Oceania to exchange explosive ordnance disposal tactics, techniques, and procedures and reduce the risk of explosive remnants of war (ERW).

U.S. Marines and Sailors with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin 24.3 worked alongside members of the U.S. Army 74th Ordnance Company, Australian Army 6th Engineer Support Regiment, 20th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron, New Zealand Army, Canadian Navy Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic), and French Armed Forces in New Caledonia. The teams also worked closely with the local Republic of Nauru government, police force, and observers from the Republic of Nauru.

Before the operation commenced, international contingents gathered to discuss and implement practical applications using various devices to support the mission. The multinational team assembled HESCO concertainers at Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley, Australia, engineering a secure structure for the demolition site later established in Yaren, Nauru.

All contingents aimed to render safe and reduce the hazard of unexploded ordnance remnants from World War II in Nauru. The primary objective of the operation was to dispose of 18 ERWs including multiple 5-inch U.S. Naval projectiles, Type 97 and 99 Japanese bombs, and an M249A2 U.S. mortar while maintaining and providing safety to the people of Nauru and vital infrastructure in the vicinity. This operation underscores the commitment to protect communities from the hazards associated with ERWs left in the Pacific region.

“This is a great opportunity, not only to learn but to exchange procedures and techniques we’ve learned over time,” said U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Kharl Ange Joseph, an explosive response element leader with Combat Logistics Battalion 5 (Reinforced), MRF-D 24.3. “We have a great opportunity here to exchange knowledge, learn as much as I can, and teach as much as I can.”

After completing the necessary preparations, international partners flew to the Republic of Nauru on a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster III assigned to No. 36 Squadron, RAAF Base Amberley, on May 24, 2024. Upon arrival, they met with local officials, including the Republic of Nauru’s emergency services.

“It’s important for us to collaborate with the Nauru police force and emergency services to render safe and dispose of the explosive remnants of war,” stated Australian Army Sgt. Noah David, an EOD team leader with 6th ESR, 20th EOD Squadron. “It’s important to construct protective works to reduce the impact that they may have on the local community.”

During the operation, U.S. Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and partner nations filled sandbags and constructed HESCO concertainers in preparation for the demolition site, utilizing techniques previously used in Queensland, Australia. Once initial preparations were completed, they transported the ERWs from a secured site to the newly built demolition area. There, nations loaded the ERWs into designated bays and prepared the ordnance for safe detonation.

“We started by locating the remnants of war and determining that it is in fact presenting a hazard to the local population and infrastructures,” said Joseph, “Once they were safe to be moved, we transported them to the demolition site engineered to protect and ensure that vital infrastructures are not damaged, and we disposed of them by detonation.”

On the afternoon of May 30, 2024, the team safely disposed of the ERWs. As the detonation occurred, a plume of smoke rose through the clouds, symbolizing the successful completion of the mission. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of international partners and the Republic of Nauru’s emergency services, the ERWs were officially rendered safe.

“The ADF [Australian Defence Force] and multinational allies have improved the safety of Nauru for local families and the community,” said Mikka Detabene, the Senior Constable of the Nauru Police Force.

By Editor