The Royal Australian Navy has begun collecting data to help establish an eastern border outpost with the Solomon Islands government.
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Teams of specialist surveyors have begun collecting hydrographic, land, and environment information to help inform the neighbouring government’s decision, according to an Australian Defence Force announcement made on 20 March.
The selected site is expected to be a remote island in the east of Solomon Islands, which will house Royal Solomon Islands Police Force personnel as well as customs, immigration, biosecurity and disaster management Officials.
Twelfth Chief Engineer Works project manager Captain Luke Staples, who took part in the survey work and has returned to Solomon Islands for the fifth time, said the project aims to make sure the Solomon Islands government has what they need in their outpost and then work through the process to deliver the infrastructure.
“We are working in Temotu Province to conduct hydrographic, land, and environmental surveys of possible eastern border outpost locations, and will provide this data and information to the Solomon Islands government so they can choose an appropriate site for the outpost to be constructed to best enable their goals and strategic outcomes,” CAPT Staples said.
“I have found the last year of working in the Solomon Islands engaging, professionally challenging, and rewarding. The Solomon Islands people are great to work with; they are encouraging, enthusiastic, and welcoming.”
For the survey work, the Royal Australian Navy Deployable Geospatial Support Team is working with the Australian Army Littoral and Riverine Survey Squadron, led by the 12 CE Works project team.
Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Police Constable John-Mark Saugaro said personnel have spent three weeks aboard ADV Reliant, working with RSIPF and Solomon Islands Maritime Authority personnel to complete the surveys.
“It is great to be on board, walking with them through the process and engaging with the local community,” Police Constable Saugaro said.
Seaman Hannah Pirie said she was excited to work in Solomon Islands, less than one year into her hydrographic surveyor career.
“The Solomon Islands government relies on our data to understand what areas are safe for their border outpost to be constructed, enabling them to protect and police their waters,” SMN Pirie said.
“We apply our collected data to known tides and satellite imagery of reef formations to chart the safest and most feasible approach.
“I’ve enjoyed surveying the beautiful reefs surrounding the island with my team and experiencing the culture here.”
The project management team is also supporting establishment of the Solomon Islands’ Western Border Outpost in the Shortland Islands and the Enhanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Facilities at Hell’s Point, as well as Solomon Islands’ Guardian Class II patrol boats delivered by Australia’s Pacific Patrol Boat Program.