U.S. fighter jets dropped inactive bombs on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Tuesday in a training snafu. Despite being visible from space, the two marine planes apparently didn’t mean to ditch their payload, four 500-pound bombs, into the ancient ecosystem.
Two of the bombs were disarmed before they were dropped; the other two were inert. The Navy said they were dropped in an area near the reef, but not in the reef itself. No explosions occurred.
The planes were running out of fuel on Tuesday and had to ditch the bombs in order to land, the Navy said.
After dropping the bombs, the planes returned to the Navy ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard.
The Navy said the pilots were originally headed to Townshend Island to drop the bombs in a training exercise, but hazards were reported in the area and the planes had to return to the ship. They apparently chose to drop them in the marine park off the Queensland coast so that they wouldn’t hit any passing ships.