World Headlines
Navy Releases Bombs Off Australian Coast
By Alex Mazariegos
Jul 22, 2013 - 2:22:06 PM

A school of scalefin anthias on a reef edge. Courtesy of the Great Barrier Marine Park.
AUSTRALIA—News has emerged that two U.S. military aircraft have released four bombs near the Great Barrier Reef off the Australian coast.


The incident occurred on Tuesday, July 16, during a joint training exercise with the Australian military. The disarmed projectiles were released far away from the reefs, and they were also dropped deep enough to avoid collision with passing ships.


The ordnance consisted of two disarmed bombs, which did not explode, and two inert (non-explosive) bombs.


Problems arose when circumstances altered a planned drop on the Townshend Island range in Queensland; the island was not cleared due to the near proximity of civilian boats. The aircraft was low on fuel and could not land with “the amount of ordnance on board,” according to the U.S. Navy.


The AV-8B Harrier planes launched from a Navy ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard.


For their part, representatives of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park have responded to inquiries on their Facebook page, stating, “Please be assured the ordnance was unarmed (and two were full of concrete), so there's no risk of them exploding. Thankfully, the drop also occurred about 30 kilometers from the nearest reef. The immediate impact on the marine environment is thought to be negligible.”


The Great Barrier Reef is the first coral reef ecosystem to be listed under World Heritage. The marine park stretches for 2,300 kilometers (about 1,429 miles) off the eastern coast of Australia. It is also the largest coral reef ecosystem, with 3,000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, and various species of marine life.


The U.S. Navy is reportedly planning to retrieve the bombs.

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