Western Border Outpost in the Shortland Islands Group - Solomon Islands - Geotechnical investigation

PMG has recently facilitated the early works (Geotechnical Investigation) associated with the planned construction of the Western Border Outpost at Lofung South in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands.

This project is being undertaken by the Commonwealth of Australia in conjunction with Solomon Islands Government.  GHD commissioned PMG to take the necessary crew and equipment to site to collect geotechnical samples needed to enable the design of both Land based and Marine facilities to be completed.

PMG were supported onsite by various subcontractors including:

  • Douglas Partners - site investigation/sample collection & sample testing on return to Australia,
  • OPEC Systems – UXO clearance, both on land and in water,
  • Geodrill – Drilling equipment and crew.

The scope of works included the excavation of 9 x 2m deep test pits and the drilling of 12 boreholes up to 20m deep (6 on land and 6 marine bore holes). Douglas Partners provided a Geotechnical Engineer and associated equipment to collect the required samples.

As the site was occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War there was a risk that unexploded ordinance could exist on land and in the surrounding water.  OPEC Systems provide two UXO technicians and the necessary equipment to undertake the clearance works, with PMG providing the commercial dive capability to support the in-water clearance works.  Fortunately, no live UXO were found, however, fragments of exploded bombs were detected and recovered from the site.

The marine crew and equipment were mobilized to the Shortland Islands from our Townsville base aboard the PMG 181 which was towed by PMG Emerald. The remainder of the crew and subcontractors flew into Honiara before flying into Taro Island in the western province nearby to the Shortland Islands. 

On arrival the PMG crew undertook meetings with local Shortland Island community leaders to communicate the intent of our visit to their islands. These meetings were very well received and set the tone for what was a very positive experience for both PMG crew members and the locals themselves. Over the duration of the works the crew members had opportunity to visit local villages/communities to meet the friendly people, experience the local culture and explore the numerous Japanese WW2 seaplane wrecks that can be found in the area. 

The crew were also able to supplement their provisions with fresh fruit and vegetable purchased from the local markets or from locals who delivered via dugout canoe direct to the PMG Emerald.

The works were successfully undertaken over a 3.5-week duration, with the landside investigations being completed before the barge was maneuvered between the marine borehole locations to complete the scope of works.