Mines are amongst the most numerous in Iraq's arsenal and carry a charge of 145kg. The mines are anchored at a minimum of 3 metres from the surface and are designed for maximum damage to the ship's hull.
The Khor Abd Allah is a waterway that flows into the northern Gulf between Iraq and Kuwait. Tugs in the region are normal, using their powerful engines to push the large oil tankers into position on the two Iraqi oil platforms off the coast.
The Coalition interdicted more than 100 mines before the Iraqis put them in the water. Special Operations Forces and Naval Special Warfare units in the Khor Abd Allah (KAA) waterway captured a number of cleverly disguised Iraqi minelayers before they could sow their mines.
One tug and barge had been plying a steady route between the Persian Gulf and Iraq's Khawr Abd Allah (KAA) waterway for weeks. As operations against Iraq commenced, the tugs took on a more sinister role - counteracted only by a dose of Aussie attitude. The tugs were sighted in the KAA after hostilities had commenced and were boarded by two other Coalition parties and searched. All appeared normal, until the RAN decided to reboard one of the tugs, which had a barge alongside. As the crew were kept together, they were asked if there were any weapons or explosives on board. The boarding party was surprised when one of the crew replied "yes". He led them into the hull of the barge through a false floor in a shipping container. In the darkened hull, set in rows and on rails, were many large spiked Manta and smaller mines - enough to cause major damage to Coalition ships during their operations in the region. Designed to deploy the mines through a rail system out of the rear of the barge, mines could be placed into the water without drawing attention from Coalition patrols. There was outstanding cover and deception by the Iraqi Navy. US forces interdicted several uniquely configured Iraqi minelayers.
On another Iraqi tug, more mines were located on rails, disguised under cut away 44-gallon drums and plastic sheeting. All tugs had weapons secreted around them.
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