The bombs, two inert practice bombs, and two unarmed, but very powerful, laser-guided explosives, were dropped just a few meters away from the reef. The pilots had intended to drop the bombs much further away from the reef, but after running low on fuel after an exercise mix-up, the pilots had to unload their bombs before landing.
The Navy is investigating the incident.
"Have we gone completely mad?" Australian Senator Larissa Waters, the Greens party's spokeswoman told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "Is this how we look after our World Heritage area now? Letting a foreign power drop bombs on it?"
The four bombs, which weigh a total 1.8 metric tons, did not explode on impact, and will possibly remain on the sea floor, just a few hundred feet from the reef.