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Gatton girl goes on Operation Render Safe

Growing up in Gatton, Queensland, Peta Large has always had an interest in hospitality, which led to her joining the Royal Australian Navy as a Maritime Logistics-Chef.

After completion of Navy Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus, she completed her category training including a Certificate III in Hospitality, where she was awarded the Overall Student of Merit Award. 

Today, Peta is an Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Chef aboard the amphibious transport ship, HMAS Choules, where she worked hard to prepare and serve tasty meals to the ships crew and embarked military forces.

"I love the Navy as much as I love cooking," she said.

Peta attended Lockyer District School and worked in local fast food and a patisserie before joining the Navy, where she has taken part in exciting deployments including Operation Philippines Assist, which earned her a  Military Civic Action medal from the Philippines Government for assistance following Typhoon Haiyan in late 2013.

Peta and the rest of Choules’ crew are involved in Operation Rendfer Safe which is a key element of Australia’s enduring commitment to the removal of the explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the South Pacific.

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Chef Peta Large has been busy indeed onboard HMAS Choules during Op Render Safe, which is designed to remove bombs, weapons and ammunition remaining from WWII from islands in and around Bougainville.

The ship’s galley has been keeping up their excellent reputation, and is currently making about 1500 meals a day, feeding Clearance Diving Teams, Royal Solomon Islands Police Force members, Explosive Ordnance Device Operators from New Zealand, United States, Canada and Great Brittan’s Defence Forces, and hundreds of Australian Army members as well as Choules’ Ship’s company. 

In between working hard in the ships galley, Peta said  she was invented a recipe for success for coping with her busy schedule.

"I love my job and have been enjoying the challenge of a busy galley and the teamwork that exists among us as we cook up a storm for hundreds of people on board Choules during Operation Render Safe," she said. 

"However, I am really looking forward to returning home to spending valuable time with my friends and family."

Operation Render Safe involves making safe the explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the South Pacific. 

The Australian Defence Force led the combined contribution of effort from various countries during Operation Render safe with to remove bombs, weapons and ammunition remaining from WWII in islands in and around Bougainville.

Choules and her embarked personnel of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) specialists, clearance divers and medical officers participated in the operation from October 24 to November 7.

The operation focused on the township of Torokina which was the site of major military camps in WWII.

The scale of this year’s operation meant the Combined Taskforce was on track to make a real dent in the size of the problem facing the local people.

The annual tasking is a key element of Australia’s enduring commitment to make safe the explosive remnants of war in the South Pacific.

The very remoteness and lack of infrastructure in the Torokina area makes this years operation particularly complex and will provide the taskforce excellent joint experience in a true amphibious environment.

Exact numbers of how much ordinance remains on Bougainville is hard to estimate, but the last Op Render Safe, conducted in Solomon Islands in 2013, disposed of more than 12,000 unexploded objects.

Bougainville was the scene of heavy fighting in WWII where more than 500 Australians and 40,000 Japanese soldiers were killed in combat or from illness.

This fierce fighting left behind an enduring legacy of munitions that litters farm land poses a real threat to generations of local people.

500 ADF members participated in Op Render Safe, at the invitation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, and with the approval of the PNG National Government.