U.S. Accidentally Drops 2,000 Lbs. of Bombs on the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is visible from high above the water's surface. The Great Barrier Reef is visible from high above the water's surface. CoolR/Shutterstock.com

In a joint military exercise with Australia last week, the U.S. Navy dropped four unarmed bombs on the Great Barrier Reef (that thing that's endangered and can be seen from space). None exploded.

No, coral, despite it's propensity to leave some nasty scratches on human flesh, is not part of any new Axis of Evil or conspiring with al-Qaida. The bombs were dropped in an "emergency jettison," and the Navy took precautions to minimize the damage to the World Heritage marine park. 

"The selected emergency jettison area was in a deep channel away from the reef to minimize the possibility of reef damage," reads a statement from the U.S. 7th Fleet. "It is approximately 50 to 60 meters deep and does not pose a hazard to shipping or navigation."

According to USA Today, the fighters were on a practice mission to the Townshend Island bombing range, but they couldn't release the payload because of the presence of civilian boats. Underfueled, the jets couldn't land with the bombs on board, so they had to ditch them. A spokesman for the Navy assured multiple news outletsthat there is minimal environmental impact, and the Navy has said that it will consider a salvage operation.

Still, environmental groups are not happy. The reef is a protected marine park, after all. From Australia's Sky News:

Australian senator Larissa Waters, Greens party spokeswoman on the Great Barrier Reef, described the dumping of bombs as outrageous and said it should not be allowed.

She said: "Have we gone completely mad? 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 antiwar activists protesting against the joint exercise, claimed the US military could no longer be trusted to protect the environment.

"How can they protect the environment and bomb the reef at the same time? Get real."

(Image via CoolR/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.