US considers salvaging unarmed bombs dropped on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The U.S. Navy says it is considering salvaging four unarmed bombs dropped by U.S. fighter jets into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park last week when a training exercise went wrong.

Two jets from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit had intended to drop the ordnances on the Townshend Island bombing range on Tuesday, but aborted the mission when controllers reported civilian boats in the way. Instead they jettisoned the bombs into the World Heritage-listed marine park. None exploded.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest network of coral structures, stretching more than 1,800 miles along Australia’s northeast coast. The park authority says it’s looking for a “rapid recovery” of the bombs to avoid any risk to the reef’s rich marine life. But the authority also says the ordnance poses a “low risk.”

The Navy says the four bombs, weighing a total of 2,000 pounds, were dropped in deep water away from coral to minimize possible damage to the reef.

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