Last week, joint maneuvers with Australian forces went awry, forcing U.S. Navy planes to drop unarmed bombs into the sea near the Great Barrier Reef.
Two planes from the USS Bonhomme Richard were scheduled to drop the bombs on a uninhabited island used as a bombing range. However, after observers detected the presence of civilian boats in the area, the drill was cancelled. The planes were unable to land with the ordinance and were directed to drop the bombs — which did not explode — in an area chosen to minimize any impact on the environment, the Associated Press notes.
Four bombs were dropped into the water. Two were disarmed prior to dropping, the other two were dummy bombs.
Environmentalists decried the incident and potential damage to the reef, which is an Australian national park and a World Heritage area.
Australian and American officials are investigating the incident.
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