The U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement that the two AV-8B Harrier jets launched from an aircraft carrier each jettisoned an inert bomb and an unarmed explosive bomb in the World Heritage-listed marine park off Queensland state on Tuesday.
The navy says the four bombs were dropped in a channel away from coral to minimize possible damage to the reef. None exploded.
Larissa Waters, Australian Greens Senator for Queensland, talked to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. about the incident.
"We're letting the U.S. military drop bombs on the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef, have we gone completely mad?" she asked. "Is this how we look after our World Heritage areas now? Letting a foreign power drop bombs on it?"
The U.S. Navy said they and the U.S. Marine Corps are working with Australian authorities to investigate the incident.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)