Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

U.S. drops unarmed bombs in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park during military exercise

Jul. 21, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard transits the Philippine Sea on July 1. Two American fighter jets launched from Bonhomme Richard dropped four unarmed bombs into Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park last week when a training exercise went wrong, the U.S. Navy said.
The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard transits the Philippine Sea on July 1. Two American fighter jets launched from Bonhomme Richard dropped four unarmed bombs into Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park last week when a training exercise went wrong, the U.S. Navy said. (MCS Seaman Apprentice Edward Guttierrez III/Navy)
  • Filed Under

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — Two American fighter jets dropped four unarmed bombs into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park last week when a training exercise went wrong, the U.S. Navy said, angering environmentalists.

The two AV-8B Harrier jets launched from amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard each jettisoned an inert practice bomb and an unarmed laser-guided explosive bomb into the World Heritage-listed marine park off the coast of Queensland state on Tuesday, the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement Saturday.

The four bombs, weighing a total 1.8 metric tons (4,000 pounds), were dropped into more than 50 meters (164 feet) of water away from coral to minimize possible damage to the reef, the statement said. None exploded.

The jets from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit had intended to drop the ordnances on the Townshend Island bombing range, but aborted the mission when controllers reported the area was not clear of hazards.

The pilots conducted the emergency jettison because they were low on fuel and could not land with their bomb load, the Navy said.

The emergency happened on the second day of the biennial joint training exercise Talisman Saber, which brings together 28,000 U.S. and Australian military personnel over three weeks.

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps were working with Australian authorities to investigate the incident, the Navy said.

A 7th Fleet spokesman did not immediately respond on Sunday when asked by email whether the dumping posed any environmental risk.

Australian Sen. Larissa Waters, the influential Greens party’s spokeswoman on the Great Barrier Reef, described the dumping of bombs in such an environmentally sensitive area as “outrageous” and said it should not be allowed.

“Have we gone completely mad?” she told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “Is this how we look after our World Heritage area now? Letting a foreign power drop bombs on it?”

Graeme Dunstan, who is among the environmentalists and anti-war activists demonstrating against the joint exercises, said the mishap proved that the U.S. military could not be trusted to protect the environment.

“How can they protect the environment and bomb the reef at the same time? Get real,” Dunstan said from the Queensland coastal town of Yeppoon, near where the war games are taking place.

The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest network of coral structures, is rich in marine life and stretches more than 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) along Australia’s northeast coast.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Navy Times

This Week's Navy Times

Cruise pay
CNO wants to reward fleet sailors on long deployments

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
   Last Post: TJMAC77SP
        Apr 23, 2014 4:14 PM
   Last Post: Stalwart
        Apr 23, 2014 12:27 PM
San Antonio shooting
(10 replies)
   Last Post: Measure Man
        Apr 22, 2014 3:34 PM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook