Patrol ship HMS Tamar spent five days in and around the tiny Pacific island of Pitcairn – famous the world over as the destination of the mutineers of HMS Bounty.
According to the Royal Navy, specialists from Tamar carried out the first stage of neutralising old explosives left on Pitcairn for nearly half a century by carrying out a series of controlled explosions.
“The ship conducted sovereignty patrols in the island chain’s waters – the fourth largest Marine Protected Area in the world, covering an area the size of Scandinavia – and gathered water samples for scientists to analyse the impact of climate change. Pitcairn lies 1,350 miles from Tahiti more than 3,000 miles from New Zealand and 9,000 miles from Tamar’s home base of Portsmouth but is a UK Overseas Territory with a Governor based in Wellington, New Zealand.
Of the four islands, Pitcairn is the only inhabited island and has recently opened a marine science base to investigate the impact of climate change and the health of marine bio-diversity in what is one of the last remaining fully intact marine eco-systems left on the planet. The arrival of HMS Tamar effectively doubled the Pitcairn population overnight and the sailors immediately knuckled down to community tasks in and around the sole settlement, Adamstown.
Tamar embarked two experts from the Royal Navy’s Portsmouth-based Diving and Threat Exploitation Group to deal with decades-old explosives. They found more than 1,100 detonators and over three kilometres of detonating cord, left over from construction of the island’s small harbour in the 1970s, which was in a dangerous state and needed disposing; that was carried out with controlled explosions in a sheltered bay. The explosive experts also found around three and a half tonnes of high explosive ammonium nitrate fuel oil, once used during quarrying mining operations on Pitcairn. A specialist team will return to the island in due course to render it safe.”
Elsewhere, sailors helped provide muscle to help with the ongoing construction of Pitcairn’s new community centre, offered advice on maritime infrastructure and the boats used to ferry stores between visiting supply ships and the harbour.
“The islanders were immensely grateful for the support we provided, whether it be advice on their maritime infrastructure; outreach support for the development of their community centre; or ordnance disposal,” said Officer of the Watch Lieutenant Leo Jeune.
“It was a pleasure to meet and integrate with the community, and understand the challenges and unique aspects to living in the UK’s most distant overseas territory, and, one of the most isolated communities in the world. Their friendliness and island spirit were mimetic of the communities we often miss when forward deployed away from our homes.”