26 January 2012
DEFENCE SUPPORT TO SOLOMON ISLANDS
Defence support is provided through the Defence Cooperation Program (DCP) in three main areas: provision of support to the RSIPF Maritime Unit and EOD Team, and support to the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). Activities are arranged and coordinated by the Defence Adviser and his Assistant in the Australian High Commission.
Australia donated two Pacific Patrol Boats to Solomon Islands in the early 1990s as part of a Pacific wide project. Australia continues to contribute funding support for fuel, victuals, and maintenance of the boats and associated shore infrastructure. Australia also provide two Advisors who provide support to RSIPF Maritime Unit staff including with the planning and conduct of maritime surveillance operations, the operation and maintenance of the patrol boats, and other aspects of the unit’s operation such as personnel and financial management.
Training support is provided through the Australian Maritime College in Launceston which trains students in the deck and engineering streams. There will be 15 students from the RSIPF Maritime Unit attending AMC this year.
The Maritime Surveillance Adviser also coordinates aerial support to maritime surveillance operations provided by Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States, and has facilitated a number of search and rescue operations in Solomon Islands waters.
DCP also assists in providing training and support to the RSIPF Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team. Support includes significant funding for infrastructure and equipment. This work is being done in conjunction with the US State Department.
In addition, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) continues to provide ongoing support for the removal and reduction of unexploded ordnance in the Pacific under the auspices of OPERATION RENDER SAFE.
The ADF provides a Navy officer to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in Honiara in the position of the Surveillance Operations Officer (SOO). The principal role of the SOO is to coordinate a broad range of regional maritime surveillance activities across the SW Pacific to counter Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fisheries activities. The position also supports a wide range of Australian Defence and FFA initiatives.