Navy divers remove live bomb after fisherman calls for research on Elizabeth Reef on Lord Howe Island
An unexploded 45kg bomb was towed into deep water five months after being found off the coast of New South Wales
The weapon was found in late April by a fisherman on Elizabeth Reef on Lord Howe Island Defense staff said it could have posed « a significant risk to the general public »
The local fisherman was visiting the reef, about 550 miles off NSW, with his wife and photographed his find and reported it to authorities
Navy divers aboard HMAS Adelaide carefully removed the abandoned explosive on September 25 by floating it to the surface and towing it further out to sea where it was dropped in waters of 550 meters depth
« This depth is really safe It will never be returned to the reef, » said John Pritchard, senior marine parks officer
The origin of the bomb is not known and divers could not estimate its age due to the deterioration, a spokesman for Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said.
Bombs of this size were used as early as World War I, sometimes dropped from aircraft to target submarines
The minister’s spokesman said the difficult operation was further complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic and took five months to materialize, during which time the reef was closed to visitors
Ley said fishermen and Navy divers have potentially saved lives and one of Australia’s most important reefs
« The device was considered alive by the Navy and the consequences could have been quite frightening, » she said in a statement on Sunday.
Elizabeth Reef is located approximately 160 km north of World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island and stretches 82 km by 55 km
Australia, Elizabeth Reef, unexploded ordnance, Lord Howe Island
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