Four mines have been discovered in the northern Persian Gulf recently, and U.S. naval officers say shipping will be endangered if rough winter weather rips more mines from their moorings.
U.S. Navy officers said Monday that three of the mines were spotted drifting on the surface after breaking loose from their seabed anchors.
"As winter approaches, the waters in the northern gulf get a lot rougher, and that's when the anchored mines are more likely to break away. They're also harder to spot," said one officer.
The warning was issued as this 3,600-ton missile frigate arrived off Kuwait escorting the 294,739-ton Townsend, a U.S.-flagged Kuwaiti tanker.
The military sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that a convoy scheduled to leave Kuwait today would likely be the last to be escorted the entire 550-mile voyage through the gulf. The Vandegrift is designated as escort for the 81,283-ton oil products carrier Surf City.