The US military has agreed to retrieve four unarmed bombs it dropped on the Great Barrier Reef during a training exercise that didn't go to plan.

US warplanes were forced to drop the bombs after they ran dangerously low on fuel during a problem-plagued operation in central Queensland earlier this month.

The planes were unable to drop the ordnance where they had intended because civilian vessels had wandered into the pre-approved drop zone.

Instead, they were let go in about 50 to 60 metres of water inside the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef marine park.

The US Seventh Fleet says it will take the lead in the safe retrieval and disposal of the bombs.

Two of the them did not contain explosives and the other two were without their fusing mechanisms, prompting authorities to downplay any safety concerns.

"The US military is aware of its professional responsibility to mitigate the environmental impact of its exercises/operations," Seventh Fleet spokesman Lieutenant David Levy said in a statement.

"We are fully committed to redressing any potential adverse environmental impact in a timely manner."

The US military will work with the Australian Defence Force and the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority in the retrieval effort.

An investigation is under way to determine why civilians boats were in the planned drop zone.

Lt Levy said more details about the recovery effort would be announced once they were finalised.

 

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