Joint Australian and US search locates ordnance
16 August 2013
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN), in conjunction with the US Navy (USN), has successfully located four unexploded bombs dropped by USN Harrier aircraft in the lead up to Exercise Talisman Saber on 16 July 2013.
The RAN is now working with the USN to retrieve the ordnance.
The Royal Australian Navy minehunter HMAS Gascoyne located all the ordnance on 16 August 2013.
The USN and the RAN confirmed the coordinates of the ordnance through survey operations earlier this week and are currently working with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to commence the recovery of the ordnance.
Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Ash Power, said the ordnance was found in a challenging underwater environment using HMAS Gascoyne’s variable depth sonar. The bombs were located well ahead of schedule and at a depth between 60m to 70m of water.
“HMAS Gascoyne has complied with all environmental regulations throughout the search and the bombs were positively identified using one of the minehunter’s remote operating vehicles,” Lieutenant General Power said.
“Our Navy personnel have done a great job to locate these items very quickly and now stand ready to assist the retrieval process by the United States vessel USS Germantown.”
“The ordnance retrieval was planned for the period following Exercise Talisman Saber and at no stage did the jettisoned ordnance pose a threat to the safety of people or the Great Barrier Reef.”
The US-led recovery and disposal timeline is now dependant on weather conditions and environmental considerations.
The Australian Defence Force will to continue to provide direct support to the US-led effort and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
The recovery effort includes assets from the US Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit Five and airlift provided by the US Air Force.
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