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U.S. drops bombs on Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

By Rod Mcguirk

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 10:01 a.m. HST, Jul 21, 2013

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 aircraft carrier 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 4,000 pounds, were dropped into more than 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 1,800 miles along Australia's northeast coast.

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sloturle wrote:
on July 21,2013 | 06:22AM
Anonymous wrote:
You're so right. They should have returned to the carrier with their ordnance and endanger all the lives of all the sailors on board instead.
on July 21,2013 | 06:57AM
Pacej001 wrote:
So true, what's mere human life compared to dropping four inert bombs into a park that covers13,2973 Sq. miles, roughly the size of Hawaii, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island--- COMBINED. Might have traumatized a fish. The clear, environmentally pure solution is to do away with the use of bombs by the Navy entirely.
on July 21,2013 | 11:48AM
editors wrote:
It IS shameful. They should not have been low on fuel--now how do you suppose that miscalculation occurred? The fact that the GBR is large has no bearing on whether or not this incident could have been avoided. That's the purpose behind protecting things: so that stuff like this doesn't happen, because we as a global community value the thing being protected.
on July 22,2013 | 08:52AM
Loki wrote:
They didn't bomb the reef. They dropped it near the area. Get the story straight.
on July 21,2013 | 07:18AM
sailfish1 wrote:
Try reading more carefully. It says "dropped into more than 164 feet of water away from coral to minimize possible damage to the reef".
on July 21,2013 | 08:32PM
gsr wrote:
Better go get the bombs back quick before N. Korean/Iranian divers salvage them for the guidance systems.
on July 21,2013 | 07:52AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Larissa Waters is so ignorant. Had they not done this the planes could not land and would have ended up in the water creating a greater environmental hazard. Its not rocket science for the navy to retrieve these things.
on July 21,2013 | 07:59AM
tiki886 wrote:
The environmentalist wackos hold human life as cheaper than dirt when compared to an environmentally sensitive area. If you dropped bombs on the moon they would complain.
on July 21,2013 | 08:04AM
aomohoa wrote:
When the environment is destroyed there will be no human life dummy! I suppose you don't care about clear cutting the rainforests either??
on July 21,2013 | 09:47AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Not only clear cutting, we should clearcut, then bomb it. Jungles are full of bugs, don't you know.
on July 21,2013 | 11:51AM
aomohoa wrote:
I surely hope you are kidding or you are complete. jack1#@
on July 21,2013 | 08:50PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Poking fun at the lunatic extremism of current environmentalist movement. Four concrete bombs dropped in 132,000 sq miles of ocean area is microscopically trivial. I'd wager that thousand times the weight of those "bombs" in bird poop goes into that same area every day.
on July 22,2013 | 08:30AM
Fred01 wrote:
Most human life is cheaper than dirt.
on July 22,2013 | 10:49AM
Anonymous wrote:
Go retrieve the things and make the place "whole" again.....
on July 21,2013 | 08:40AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
The U.S. Military ,ahhhhh.
on July 21,2013 | 09:19AM
Kailuaraised wrote:
I'd rather bombs get dropped than have a jet crash into the reef
on July 21,2013 | 09:42AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
So they tanned his hide when he died, Clyde, and that's it hanging on the shed. All together now. Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down. Drop the bombs on the reef, Beef, and tie me kangaroo down.
on July 21,2013 | 09:45AM
haleiwalad1 wrote:
oops, sorry about that chief......
on July 21,2013 | 09:48AM
8082062424 wrote:
that out military . and that the very reason no want them in there back yard
on July 21,2013 | 10:41AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Or the police (all those lead filled bullets). Or the fire department (spraying that yucky foam stuff).
on July 21,2013 | 12:17PM
MillionMonkeys wrote:
on July 21,2013 | 10:43AM
HD36 wrote:
Don't forget we now have a military base in Australia to protect Australia from attack from their biggest customer China. As long as China keeps loaning us money we can protect Australia from China.
on July 21,2013 | 11:14AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
The fear of fear.war mongers are like second amendment nuts. We need to get bigger guns. More guns. Use more for force.
on July 21,2013 | 11:49AM
BillD wrote:
The four bombs, weighing a total 4,000 pounds, were dropped into more than 164 feet of water away from coral to minimize possible damage to the reef, the statement said. Close only counts in hand grenades and coral reefs?
on July 21,2013 | 11:46AM
tiki886 wrote:
Light doesn't penetrate the water very well at a 164 feet so there's not much coral at that depth.
on July 21,2013 | 02:05PM
OPGLAW wrote:
the u.s. military is the LAST organization that i'd trust to protect the environment. except for maybe the Republican party, or any business/government entity out of China.
on July 21,2013 | 02:23PM
WKAMA wrote:
Most people probably don't remember war in the Pacific during World War II. Then they were bombs, ships, aircrafts,artillery, and everything else you could think of damaging the reefs in the South Pacific. The reefs recovered. Four bombs dropped around the reefs recently was unfortunate but no big thing compared to what was dropped during the war in the Pacific. As then, the reefs will recover.
on July 21,2013 | 05:00PM
st1d wrote:
so there were no tankers in the sky or ready on the line to be launched? what if they needed a go around after missing the cables? anyway, time for the navy divers to use their skills. no harm no foul.
on July 22,2013 | 05:07AM
Kuokoa wrote:
Yeah, get the story straight, Sen. Larissa Waters, "four unarmed bombs...none exploded." Besides, would you have rather they drop on the aircraft carrier or on land in Australia? Go suck up some sludge!
on July 22,2013 | 08:21AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
This article title is misleading-- somewhere it should mention that the bombs did not explode. E.g. US drop bombs in waters surrounding Great Barrier Reef; bombs unexploded.
on July 22,2013 | 02:53PM
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