Last week, US Navy Harrier fighter jets were forced to drop four bombs into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. This week, the US military is offering to recover those weapons.
The Harrier fighter jets were forced to drop two inert and two explosive bombs after civilian boats were spotted near their original target.
The aircraft were participating in Operation Talisman Saber, a joint US-Australian military exercise involving nearly 30,000 personnel.
Bombs were released because the planes could not safely land with the explosive cargo in town.
According to Vice Admiral Scott Swift, the commander of the US 7th Fleet:
“Once that determination has been made, we’ll work closely with whoever is designated to remediate the problem. If that means removal of the weapons, I’d be happy to participate.”
The US owned bombs are lying 160 to 200 feet underwater but pose “little to no risk” to the reef or shipping lanes in the area.
A spokesman for the US Navy says it would be easy for retrieval teams to pick up the bombs.
The US Navy offering to help Australia retrieve the bombs is a nice gesture but hardly enough for environmental experts. Several groups have openly protested holding military operations in sensitive areas around Australia, specifically around the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef is already under pressure from increased commercial shipping, climate change, and an invasive starfish infestation.
The Australian government and military have not yet responded to the US Navy’s offering to help remove the released bombs from the Great Barrier Reef.
Do you think US-Australia war games should be carried out in less environmentally fragile areas?