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RAN divers complete UXO clearance operation in Top End

RAN divers complete UXO clearance operation in Top End

A waterway in Darwin has been cleared of explosives by a team of Navy divers.   

A waterway in Darwin has been cleared of explosives by a team of Navy divers.   

A team of five Royal Australian Navy (RAN) divers have rendered the safety of a commercial and recreational waterway in Darwin Harbour following the identification of suspected unexploded ordnance (UXO).

The divers, which were deployed from Sydney on 22 September, searched the ship lift development site in the East Arm precinct before locating a potential dummy bomb historically used by aircraft in target practice.


Clearance Dive Team One Executive Officer Lieutenant Matthew Smith said the operation was supported by effective coordination between stakeholders.

“We were given GPS coordinates from divers who found the UXO and provided a safe exclusion zone in which to operate by the Darwin water police,” he said.

Upon identifying the UXO, the team conducted a high order detonation, which involved laying plastic explosive on top of the item before a remotely controlled detonation.

One of the clearance divers then conducted an assessment of the site to confirm the disposal of the UXO and assure the safety of the site. 

The RAN team was reportedly challenged by significant tidal streams and low visibility during the two-days search, made more difficult by corrosion and maritime growth.  

“At its best, visibility was no more than about half a metre,” LEUT Smith said.

“But despite the challenge, it’s been a great opportunity to apply our skills in a real-world scenario.

“It’s also very satisfying to be able to hand the area back to authorities, and the general public, in a safe manner.”

The cleared open access multi-user ship lift facility and associated marine industry infrastructure is now expected to be capable of servicing large vessels from a number of industries.

These include coastal shipping, offshore petroleum, fishing, pearling and Australian Border Force and Defence.

Northern Australia Senior Naval Officer Captain Moses Raudino lauded the collaborative efforts of all involved in the UXO clearance operation.

“Navy have been part of the fabric of the Northern Territory for more than 90 years including providing support to the community following events such as the bombing of Darwin and Cyclone Tracy,” CAPT Raudino said.

“I’m confident our people are eager to continue this tradition today, no matter how big or small the task may be.”

[Related: Australian Navy officers support mine clearing exercise in Arab Gulf]

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