Clearance Diving Officer helps clear Tuvalu of Explosive Remnants of War

Members of the Operation Render Safe team pose for a photo aboard Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship Manawunui. This year’s reconnaissance mission was led by the Australian Defence Force and also included members of the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy and the United States Marine Corps.

Peter Mallett, 
Staff Writer

A Clearance Diving Officer from Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) (FDU(P)) cleared Second World War relics in the South Pacific waters.

Lieutenant (Navy) Michael Allport, FDU(P)’s Operational Dive Team Leader, assisted the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in an international effort to locate the Second World War ordnance off the coast of Tuvalu Sept. 7-14.

“Working around explosives always poses risk but these bombs were unfused, so we were basically looking for large masses of steel and explosives on the sea bed,” Lt(N) Allport said.

Lt(N) Allport was part of an international contingent that combed the sea floor for explosives as part of a reconnaissance mission titled Operation Render Safe.

Render Safe is an ongoing effort led by the ADF to clear explosive remnants of war from Pacific Island communities. During the Second World War, the South Pacific saw heavy fighting and various Pacific Islands were used as a support and ammunitions base. As a result, unexploded munitions remain there today.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) normally participate in Render Safe every two years. This year’s mission also included members of the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) and the United States Marine Corps (USMC) working aboard HMNZS Manawanui.

“Our mission was a great success,” Lt(N) Allport said. “It’s very rewarding to work alongside allied nations, working to restore safety to the South Pacific.”

The operation saw the contingent scan more than 2.5 kilometres of the sea floor in over 47 hours of dive time. They identified 22 AN-M43 500 lbs aerial bombs and four .50 calibre small arms dumps at depths of 10-18 metres.

Lt(N) Allport was embedded with a team of New Zealand divers for the search effort. He said searches for unexploded munitions were done using diver-held Shark Marine sonar technology and visual searches in depths under 30 metres. The team used an underwater scooter to traverse the ocean floor, enabling them to cover larger areas of their grid search in a shorter time. 

The disposal of the discovered explosive remnants of war is currently planned for 2023, said a spokesperson from the ADF.   

Commander (Cdr) John McQueen RNZN, Commanding Officer of Manwanui, said Operation Render Safe was the first time his ship has operated with an embarked international force, with combined detached diving and military hydrography events.

“Operation Render Safe has been a successful event for us as we proved capability, enhanced our ability to operate with our multinational partners, and could make a real difference to our Pacific neighbours,” Cdr McQueen said.

FDU(P) reminds Lookout readers that the Clearance Diver trade is open to all CAF Non-Commissioned Members with or without prior CAF diving experience. For more information about becoming a Clearance Diver, contact

An aerial bomb photographed by clearance divers.

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