Jets Send Ship To Watery Grave
31 May 2001
A de-commissioned US Navy war ship was sent to its final resting place today off the coast of Queensland through the precise strike capability of the Royal Australian Air Force's F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft.
The ex-USS Reeves was sent to its watery grave approximately 170 nautical miles east of Fraser Island in 12,000 ft of water. The sinking of the Leahy Class guided missile cruiser was the final military activity in the month-long, combined Australian and United States Exercise Tandem Thrust.
The Hulk Exercise (HULKEX) involved Australian and US air and naval units, though the sinking was credited largely to the four RAAF jets.
"We achieved two direct hits with Mk-82 500lbs bombs, leaving a six foot gaping hole in the starboard side of the hulk," said RAAF Flight Lieutenant Jason Gamlin, who was the lead pilot on the mission.
Just 30 minutes later the 6000-tonne hulk sank below the surface at approximately 12:30pm AEST. The HULKEX was a fitting finale to Exercise Tandem Thrust 2001, providing significant military training value to Australian and US naval and air forces.
The exercise involved aircraft from both the US and Australian Air Forces and ships from the US Navy, firing a variety of guns, bombs and missiles at the hulk in order to test their performance in a simulated battle environment.
The sinking was the culmination of months of planning, including careful environmental analysis through Australian and US environmental certification procedures. The hulk spent several months berthed in Newcastle, New South Wales, where it was stripped of all weapons and cleaned of hazardous substances, then assessed by Environment Australia to confirm suitability for disposal at sea.
The sunken hulk will become a new home for a variety of aquatic life.