27 Sep 2022

International naval team finds 22 huge World War II bombs in Tuvalu lagoon

5:57 pm on 27 September 2022
Naval Divers searching for bombs at Nanumea in Tuvalu

Navy divers searching for bombs at Nanumea in Tuvalu. Photo: Supplied/NZDF

Twenty-two 500lb World War II-era bombs have been found underwater at Nanumea in Tuvalu by a naval team from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

The Tuvalu government had asked the Australian Defence Force to look for explosive remnants from the war.

With help from HMNZS Manawanui, HMNZS Matataua and crew, plus the US Marine Corps and Canadian Navy divers, along with the Australians and New Zealanders, Operation Render Safe got underway at the beginning of this month.

Beginning at Funafuti Lagoon, New Zealand military hydrographers surveyed areas of interest and the combined dive team investigated the sea floor.

When no ordnance were found in the Funafuti area, the ships sailed on to Nanumea, where all of the bombs were located.

The Commander of Australian Defence Force operations in the South West Pacific, Major General Scott Winter, said now that they had identified the bombs, they could plan and prepare for their safe disposal.

Disposal of the bombs is planned for 2023.

bomb found at Nanumea in Tuvalu

Bomb found at Nanumea in Tuvalu Photo: Supplied/NZDF