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US Navy Jets Drop Bombs On Great Barrier Reef In Training Mishap (Video)


Two U.S. Navy jets dropped four bombs on Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park July 16 in a training exercise mishap.

According to the Associated Press, two AV-8B Harrier jets were taking part in a live fire exercise and planned to drop the bombs in a practice range area. That plan had to be aborted when unauthorized civilian boats entered the practice range.

The jets were running low on fuel, and would not have been able to land with the bombs on board. BBC News reports the jets were forced to unload the bombs on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Fortunately, none of the bombs exploded.

U.S. Navy 7th Fleet spokesman Commander William Marks told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

"There is minimal environmental impact. It is a safe situation for the environment, for shipping, for navigation."

While the Navy insists the bombs don't pose a threat to the environmentally-sensitive reef, National Geographic calls the mishap "an insult to a delicate ecosystem." World Wildlife Fund-Australia's Richard Leck told

"We need to know why it happened. There's an enormous amount of threats around the reef ... and having more threats occur in this form is certainly the last thing the reef needs."

The two AV-8B Harrier jets were participating in a joint training exercise between the U.S. and Australian militaries called Talisman Saber. The exercise started July 15 and lasts until August 2.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 22, 2013 at 12:58 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

This is extremely disturbing.

I thought this headline was a hoax until I read it.

Why is the U.S. military even conducting training near one of the world’s most significant and endangered marine ecosystems?

I am utterly appalled by this, I hope journalists hit this one hard and demand answers.

If I were an Aussie, I'd be enraged right now - actually EVERYONE should be enraged, this is preposterous.

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Avatar for user 'oh_really'

oh_really | July 22, 2013 at 2:47 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

you are extremely disturbed by this? sheesh! don't watch the real news then.

Let's see, why are they conducting training in that area? well it's a fairly important part of the world to practice with our allies just in case a pesky little war with China or North Korea breaks out. And it's awfully convenient to fly over the absolutely massive area that is the great barrier reef park because there shouldn't be much out there to disturb, although it seems that some idiot civilians decided to take a boat ride into a bomb range...

Why are you enraged? they dropped several hundred pounds of inert metal into the ocean. While I'm sure that there was some damage done when it actually hit the ground the bombs didn't explode. They are designed not to. Would you rather they waited until they ran out of fuel and crashed the entire airplane into the water?

In the end this is not good but it isn't that big of a deal. Oh and the title to the headline is a hoax. They intentionally wrote it to make you think the bombs went off and blew up the reef, which they clearly did not.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 22, 2013 at 5:06 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

There really should have been a better headline. I’m not a journalist or an editor, but that seemed like a bait & switch to me. Perhaps "Ordinance jettisoned over reef" or “Jet loses bombs to avoid crash” could have been used instead?

On the real topic though, what are the Australians doing about civilian craft violating a training range?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 22, 2013 at 5:10 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

oh_really, I am sure you are somehow connected to the military and thus have your "we can do no wrong attitude", but I stick with my first point - this is a travesty.

Our planet's major reefs are under enough stress from global warming and pollution which are bleaching corals and destroying these marine ecosystems at an alarming rate.

As if that wasn't enough, now we have the U.S. military doing military exercises about the these delicate ecosystems and dropping bombs on them?

Alaska is geographically much closer to North Korea and China than Australia is, your logic of geography makes no sense when there is U.S. land closer to these areas.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 23, 2013 at 8:01 a.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

I guess people would be more outraged if food stamps or clean needles were dropped on the Reef instead of bombs. Bombs were dropped. Period. The headline should be "More Stupidity."

We're grateful the pilots landed safely. It's not their fault that their missions are flawed and lack cogent strategies. Consider the last 50 years of abject failures before reciting Toby Keith's lyrics in rebuttal.

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Avatar for user 'oh_really'

oh_really | July 24, 2013 at 11:19 a.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

Actually I have nothing to do with the military. I just think you are over reacting.

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