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Strathpine's sailor joins war on weapons

The lifestyle with a fantastic career in the Royal Australian Navy was what appealed the most to Annaleise Easlea when she joined the Navy at only twenty years of age.

She didn’t know anyone in the Navy before she joined but has quickly come to enjoy the teamwork and camaraderie that exists on board one of the Navy’s largest ships, HMAS Choules. 

"I think that being part of a team is the most important thing I like about being at sea on Choules," she said.

Annaleise went to school at Pine Rivers State High school, in Strathpine, near her home town Dayboro, North of Brisbane. 

She then went on to start a Bachelor Degree of Social Work at Queensland University of Technology, working as an administration assistant to a tax accountant, when she decided to get a haircut and a real job and join the Navy.

"Joining the Navy was something I always had in the back of my mind," she said. 

"One morning, I woke up and realised I wanted to achieve much more with my life, so I made the decision to enlist and I have't looked back since. 

"It's not always easy but it's the challenge which makes it that much more rewarding and worth every minute".

Annaleise is a Communications Information Systems sailor, and she has been doing a lot of her primary role at sea onboard Choules during her deployment for Operation render Safe, which is a key element of Australia’s enduring commitment to make safe the explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the South Pacific.

"I like the fact we are at sea and working towards our mission, which is currently Operation Render Safe, being part of a team, and gaining a lot more experience in my role," she said. 

"We've done a lot of visual signalling, communicated with ships through flags, flashing lights and voice."

"We recently did voice procedures to HMAS Arunta when we departed Sydney for our Shakedown".

Annaleise was fortunate enough to get ashore during Operation Render Safe at Bougainville and attend a local Church Service at Torokina. 

"It was an eye opener, but also a great opportunity to get involved with the kids and community," she said.

"It makes my job in the Navy so much more worthwhile when I see the contribution that we are making to the communities and villages".

Annaleise and the rest of Choules’ crew belong to the RAN ship responsible for the provision of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) for non combatant evacuation operations (NEO). 

Part of this tasking involves being the RAN ship involved in Operation Render Safe, to make safe the explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the South Pacific. 

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.