Tafline Laylin

US Military Drops Four Disabled Bombs on the Great Barrier Reef

by , 07/23/13

great barrier reef, US navy, US military, UNESCO world heritage site, US drops bombs on Great Barrier reef, news, environment, Australia, Queensland, world's largest marine reserve, nature, natural resources

The US military dropped four bombs weighing a total of 4,000 pounds on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park as part of a training exercise last week. The bombs, which were unarmed, were supposed to be jettisoned over the nearby Townshend Island, but that mission was aborted when it was reported that hazards made it unsafe to follow through as planned. Instead, the pilots of four AV-8B Harrier jets unloaded their bombs over the World Heritage Site because they were low on fuel and could not land with the heavy load.



great barrier reef, US navy, US military, UNESCO world heritage site, US drops bombs on Great Barrier reef, news, environment, Australia, Queensland, world's largest marine reserve, nature, natural resourcesImage via Shutterstock

Australian Senator Larissa Waters, the Greens spokeswoman on the Great Barrier Reef, called last Tuesday’s event “outrageous,” The Guardian reports.

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

The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit dropped the bombs in 164ft deep water in an effort to avoid the coral reef, according to a statement issued by the US 7th fleet, but the Great Barrier Reef marine park authority is still investigating ways to recover the unexploded bombs as quickly as possible.

The navy has said it would cooperate with any such efforts, though the park claims that the bombs pose minimal risk to the world’s largest marine reserve.

Activist Graeme Dunstan told the paper that the incident demonstrates that the United States military can’t be trusted to care for the natural environment.

“How can they protect the environment and bomb the reef at the same time?” he asked.

Via The Guardian

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14 Comments

  1. Andrew Payne July 28, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Although it’s bad this happened, 4 1000 pound bombs that DID NOT EXPLODE aren’t going to have some kind of major impact on a huge reef. If they left the bombs down there the coral would just incorporate them into the reef. They’re tiny compared to the area they were dropped in, and it might have saved the pilots lives. Humans are more important than a minimal impact that will heal itself. I would bet a decent amount that Graeme Dunstan would not sacrifice himself for a few square feet of partial coral damage.

  2. patchythepirate July 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Ridiculous stories like this do much more damage to the environmental movement than they do good. And, as as has been mentioned, sensationalism is rampant on this site. This incident was a bit unfortunate, but the headline is completely misleading and unethical. However, to non-thinking ideologues, the ends always justify the means.

    As an aside, can we please stop the similarly sensationalist stories about global warming, about which, even if true, there’s nothing we can do; literally nothing, even if we put a tremendous amount of resources into it. How about focusing on practical ways to improve the environment, instead of issues that are politically expedient? There are much bigger, more immediate problems that we can actually do something about!

    E.g. Habitat destruction, pollution, sustainability of fisheries and natural resources, invasive species, etc.

  3. Peta Graham July 26, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Oh & aren\\\’t we happy. BUT, I have lived on the reef. The dark water in the photo above is where the continent drops away to hundreds of feet of water.It is so dark because it is so deep sunlight cannot be reflected back, thus the dark water. BUT this also where marlin live & literally, who knows what else. Also I have been a pilot. Why were 4 jets with 4 bombs already in the air before they realized there were hazards to the exercise. Well planned boys. Well planned. Who ever did the flight plan was well informed weren\\\’ they. Hate to have this happen if this exercise became the real thing. Oh & by the way, the US Navy is willing to help with any efforts to remove the bombs. Take your bombs & go home.

  4. Doc Fubar July 25, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    .. To join the other thousands of tons of ordnance in that bit of the Pacific. There’s a whole WW2 sub down there somewhere and they haven’t even found that yet! Along with many aeroplanes, boats, fishing nets, oil drums, ah, it was the US military on a joint defence exercise so let’s kick up a stink and blame the USA. Oh come on, get real!!

  5. envirogal July 25, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    what the heck is the US military doing exercises in AUSTRALIA for anyway?

  6. bennyh July 24, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Mark Fletcher is bang on. This site is full of similar sensationalist non stories.

  7. Esteban Cisnez July 24, 2013 at 6:05 am

    Military doesn’t give a shit about the environment. All they care about is destroying things. Using up all the old ammo so they can fill the bunkers with new ammo. The great and mighty military industrial complex. Metal and machines. Void of light, life and love.

  8. Sean Butterworth July 24, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Mark Fletcher, you’re talking out of your *ss. Divers don’t even touch coral lightly to avoid damaging it, and you’re saying that 4 tons on weight hitting the reef will have no impact?

  9. EcoHustler July 23, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    This sucks.

    Here are some useful things the US military should be getting on with:

    http://www.ecohustler.co.uk/2013/06/22/ecohustler-takes-command-of-the-us-military/

  10. Mark Fletcher July 23, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Let\’s be honest here, this is a non-story. If there was a genuine reason why this was the safest course of action to take then that\’s obviously better than unnecessary loss of life. Dropping unarmed ordinance is the same as dropping a large stone – it really won\’t do a great deal of damage even if it does strike the reef. They tried to drop it into deep water to avoid the reef; which it sounds like they did successfully. And now they\’re making every effort to retrieve them safely.

    They did not \”bomb the reef\” – nor is this a political incident. They (apparently – and only because we don’t have the full details why) dropped four disarmed, unexploded bombs in water near a reef in order to avoid a hazard – which could have been loss of human life. This kind of sensationalist reporting is what gives environmental types a bad name.

    Don’t get me wrong. The world’s coral reefs are vitally important. But give me a choice between potentially saving someone’s life and potentially-but-not damaging a little bit of coral, and I’ll take the lives every time.

  11. Jeremy Smith July 23, 2013 at 10:45 am

    What you might expect from a nation of litterbugs.

  12. Mark Garrett July 23, 2013 at 8:03 am

    “Activist Graeme Dunstan told the paper that the incident demonstrates that the United States military can’t be trusted to care for the natural environment.”

    Was there ever any question??

  13. Ally Gillespie July 23, 2013 at 5:08 am

    stupid bozos!
    Maybe u could plan your missions a bit better. MY planet is more important than YOUR military!

  14. ericspatterson July 22, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Okay, I’m not saying what the army did was right, but Graeme Dunstan statement “How can they protect the environment and bomb the reef at the same time?” is naive. They did not bomb the area, they unloaded the bombs (they did not detonate), there is a HUGE difference.

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