Navy divers who cleared Bunbury explosives receive bravery awards

The members of the Australian Defence Force Clearance Dive Team Four have been recognised with Australian Bravery Decorations for their work removing an underwater explosive device in Australind in 2013.

Australian Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove confirmed on Friday that leading seaman Scott Caldwell, able seaman Jeremy Coffey, leading seaman Euan Holden, petty officer Simon Scott, warrant officer William Taylor, able seaman Wyman Vincent and Mr Daniel Ryan were to be recognised for their service. 

The seven defence force members were deployed to Western Australia in October 2013 to assist the WA Police in the disposal of an underwater explosive device near a jetty in the Leschenault Estuary.

Despite the dangerous situation and threat of explosion, the team commenced high risk searches of the jetty and located three other unknown sonar contacts. 

A short time into the search, the divers were instructed to exit the water as the Western Australian Police had intercepted mobile phone chatter directly targeting the divers.

The search recommenced the next morning with no further devices being found. A plan was then approved to remotely move the explosive device and render it safe in a location at a distance from the jetty.

Despite the dangerous situation and risk of explosion, Petty Officer Scott manually placed a catch bag around the explosive device to which he then attached a float and tow line.

He placed the tow line around a jetty pylon and returned to the dive boat where all personnel were wearing body armour and ballistic helmets.

The device was then towed to a shallow sandbar away from the jetty and successfully detonated.

The seven naval officers were awarded a Group Bravery Citation while Petty Officer Scott was also presented with a bravery award. 

Governor-General Cosgrove said he wished to express his sincere gratitude for the naval officers contributions. 

“We are fortunate as a community to have so many outstanding people willing to put themselves in harm’s way to assist others in need and it is only fitting that they have been recognised through the Australian Honours system,” he said. 

Bunbury man Ben McDonald Roberts was arrested two weeks after the explosives were rendered safe and charged with five counts of making an explosive substance, known as TATP, between July 1 and October 28, 2013. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years imprisonment which was reduced to eight months on appeal.