40 years on, Australian Navy disposes of bomb to save marine park

After removing and disposing of explosive ordnance, Navy clearance divers in the Jervis Bay region have safeguarded a marine park (UXO).

A 500-pound Mark 82 general-purpose bomb that had lain dormant for more than 40 years was found and destroyed by Clearance Diving Team One.

It was found close to the “drum and drumsticks” rock formation, close to Jervis Bay’s entrance on the NSW South Coast.

Because of the local animals and the attractiveness of the rock formation as a recreational diving location, Chief Petty Officer Joshua Drennan, the officer in charge of maritime explosive ordnance disposal, said it was a delicate operation.

As the item’s exact location was deep inside the marine park, Chief Petty Officer Drennan explained, “we had to go for a very long tow to retrieve that thing outside of the marine park to ensure we weren’t going to damage any of the marine life.”

We must ensure that it is safe for marine life, boat traffic, and people in the water because it is one of the most popular diving sites in this area.

The UXO was discovered only 30m from a thriving seal community, according to Chief Petty Officer Drennan, who noted that the dive crew had to overcome various obstacles to find it.

He explained that we had to rotate through virtually the entire dive crew because the GPS positions that we had changed.

“To try to find it, about 11 divers entered the water at a time, two divers at a time.

“Sonar is quite challenging between the rocks, so we primarily employed optical search. Everything that resembles a UXO will appear rock-like when painted.

After the diving crew found the UXO, it was towed and destroyed at a safe site about 3 kilometres from shore.

By maintaining a perimeter around the location and keeping an eye on nearby marine activity, Chief Petty Officer Drennan credited NSW Police for helping to ensure that the team could conduct the operation safely.

A recreational diver first discovered the UXO, reported it to NSW Police, and helped the dive crew find it by providing GPS data, pictures, and region descriptions.

Commodore Michael Harris, Director General of Maritime Operations for the Navy, commended the divers for a well-done job.

Commodore Harris said, “Despite challenging sea conditions, the team has achieved a fantastic result, safely removing this ordnance from this popular and environmentally sensitive dive site while protecting marine species and public safety.”

The Royal Australian Navy prioritizes safety and environmental preservation, as evidenced by its dedication to upholding such standards.

One of two full-time Navy dive teams in Sydney, Clearance Diving Team One comprises specialized divers qualified for overt and covert mine clearance, survey, underwater damage repair, explosive ordnance disposal, and supporting special forces.

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