Four unarmed bombs were dropped by two US Fighter Jets in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park of Australia, when a training exercise went wrong on 16 July 2013. The Marine Park is a World Heritage-listed marine park off the coast of Queensland state. The information of dropping the unarmed bombs was announced by the U.S. 7th Fleet.
The inert bomb and the unarmed explosive bombs were jettisoned by the two AV-8B Harrier Jets launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard aircraft carrier. As per the official statement of the 7th Fleet of US, the bombs were dropped (none exploded) in more than 50 meter of water away from the coral to reduce the damage caused to the reefs.
The jets from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit had an intention to drop the ordnances on the bombing range of Townshend Island. But the mission was aborted after it was confirmed that the area was not clear of hazards. Whereas, the emergency jettisons were carried on by the pilots because the fuel was less and it was impossible for them to land with the loaded bombs.
The emergency situation occurred on the second day of the biennial Joint Training Exercise Talisman Saber. During this military exercise, 28000 US and Australian military personnel come together for a period of over three weeks.
About Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is widely recognised as one of the best managed marine protected areas in the world. It is the world’s largest network of coral structures that is rich in marine life. The Marine Park stretches in an area of more than 3000 kilometers along the Australian northeast coast.
The Great Barrier Reef has numerous different habitats and plants, all of which are vital to the ecosystem as a whole. It is a home for microscopic plankton as well as whales, which weighs more than 100 tonnes.
The great biodiversity of species and habitats is represented by the World Heritage status of the Reef. Protection of the reef’s biodiversity is just not essential for our future but also for the nature. As per the study conducted by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority titled Great Barrier Reef Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2013, the habitats, which are considered to be at the risk (potentially), include mangroves, coral reefs, the lagoon floor, islands, open waters and seagrass meadows. Apart from this the species or its groups identified to be at potential risk are the dugong, dwarf minke whale, humpback whale, grey mackerel, seabirds, king and blue threadfin salmon, inshore dolphins, marine turtles, sea snakes, sharks and rays (including sawfish) and snapper.
Who: US Fighter Jets
When: 16 July 2013