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(Reuters) – The U.S. Navy said on Monday it was forced to drop four unarmed bombs on to Australia's fragile Great Barrier Reef during a military exercise last week but the bombs did not explode and did not pose a hazard to shipping or navigation.

Two Harrier fighter jets dropped four bombs off the coast of tropical Queensland state on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Navy, which is taking part in a biennial joint exercise with the Australian Defence force.

The pilots of the jets had intended to drop the four bombs, two inert and two unarmed, on the Townshend Island bomb range, but were told there were hazards in the area, Commander William Marks of the U.S. Seventh Fleet told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio on Monday. Read the full story