What started with a fisherman catching more than he bargained for has ended with a massive splash off Lord Howe Island that may have saved one of Australia’s most important reefs.
Royal Australian Navy Clearance divers called in by Parks Australia have carefully removed a 100 pound bomb that had been lodged on Elizabeth Reef in Lord Howe Island Marine Park, one of the southernmost coral reefs in the world and part of the internationally recognised Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Wetland.
The unexploded ordinance (UXO) was discovered by a fisherman visiting the reef with his wife who completed a mandatory trip report advising of the discovery.
Royal Australian Navy clearance divers aboard HMAS Adelaide were deployed to remove the UXO and drop it in very deep water, well away from the ecologically significant site listed under the World RAMSAR convention.
Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley praised the work of the Navy and the local fisherman who reported the device saying that they had potentially saved lives and an important part of Australia’s marine environment.
“The device was regarded as live by the Navy and the consequences could have been quite frightening,” Minister Ley said.
“Parks Australia had been keeping the Reef closed to visitors until the Navy could properly assess the site and remove the device and thankfully the reef’s precious eco system is safe and most importantly so are future visitors.”
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, said that removing the UXO ensured the sensitive marine environment was protected and provided for the safety of all visitors for many years to come.
“Navy clearance divers are highly trained in the identification of unexploded and abandoned munitions, and in their safe disposal and removal,” Senator Reynolds said.