Suspected WWII Sea Mine Found off Kiribati

By Eric Haun
Friday, June 13, 2014
Suspected Explosive Remnant of War was discovered in late May near the main wharf in Betio Lagoon, South Tarawa in the Republic of Kiribati, beneath the wreck of the MV Tovota by salvage workers from The Dive Centre Pty Ltd Fiji. The Australian Defense Force has been requested by Kiribati authorities to dispose of the object as it poses a potential hazard to local shipping.

A team of Australian Defense Force (ADF) personnel has headed to the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati to dispose of a suspected World War II sea mine. The object was discovered beneath a sunken vessel that is being salvaged by commercial operators in Betio Lagoon, South Tarawa.

Six Royal Australian Navy clearance divers and a support team are flying to the island nation on a Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft.

They have deployed at the request of the Kiribati Government following the discovery of the object, which may date back to World War II.

The object is lying in nine meters of water and is being removed as a precaution as the lagoon is extensively used by cargo ships, ferries and fishing boats.

Clearance Diving Team Leader Chief Petty Officer Shaun Elliott said it was not yet clear what state the object is in. “We will conduct a reconnaissance of the object to determine its origins and best method of disposal,” he said. “My team is well practiced in dealing with old munitions and our approach will be carefully assessed before any removal and demolition occurs.”

The disposal activity is being conducted as part of Operation Render Safe – the ADF’s enduring commitment to the removal of Explosive Remnants of War which continue to pose a potential danger to communities across the Pacific.

 

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