Millennium Post

Bombs dropped on Aus reef to avoid boats: US

The US military said on Monday it had jettisoned four unarmed bombs on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef during a training exercise only because civilian boats had strayed into the drop zone.
The US 7th fleet had earlier said only the planned target range was ‘not clear of hazards’ at the time, forcing the two Harrier jets to dump their ordnance within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off Queensland state.

But Commander William Marks revealed on Monday the crews had made the decision, which has been criticised by environmentalists, because civilian vessels were detected inside the drop range. ‘The approved area where they could do some of this live training with these 500-pound bombs, it was not safe to drop the bombs.There were civilian boats right below them,’ he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The joint Australia-US training which began on July 15 involves 28,000 troops and Marks was unable to say how civilian vessels had strayed into the Shoalwater Bay military training area. ‘I don’t have any more information about what they were doing and why they were there,’ Marks said.
‘But it’s part of our procedures just to do that safety check and if we do see that, then for safety reasons we do not drop any ordnance,’ he added.

Officials on Sunday said the fighter jets had conducted an ‘emergency jettison’ of two BDU 45s, which are inert ordnance, and two GBU 12s, which were dropped in an unarmed state on the iconic reef’s marine park on 16 July.
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