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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Mine-sweeping Continues

Aired March 27, 2003 - 02:49   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BROWN: Becky Diamond is one of our embeds, and the last time we heard from here, she was aboard -- I thought it was -- I think it was an Australian mine-sweeping operation. I may have gotten that wrong, Becky, but it's good to have you back on the phone with us.
BECKY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to be back. I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE) aboard the HMAS Kanimbla. This is an Australian coalition warship that's overseeing the mine countermeasures and mine- sweeping operations that are going on in the strategic KAA (ph) waterway. Now, that's the waterway that leads from the Persian Gulf up to Umm Qasr.

Now, this threat of mines and extremely low visibility this morning is causing the delay of the first coalition-sponsored ship that's carrying humanitarian aid up to Umm Qasr. So this is a big development aboard the Kanimbla, and the Kanimbla's coordinating mine sweepers that go out. These are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hulled ships that go out with very sophisticated sonar and search for mines. And it's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) coordinating the efforts of helicopters that tug sleds (ph) with also -- which also have sophisticated sonar searching for mines.

So we'll see what they find today. This ship is holding its position, waiting before (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

BROWN: What -- just quickly again, have they found any mines, or is it just...

DIAMOND: Well, late last week, a boarding patrol, an Aussie-led boarding patrol found an Iraqi barge and Iraqi tug...

BROWN: Right.

DIAMOND: ... up on the KAA waterway with 86 mines on them. Now, none of the mines had been deployed yet, but this raised the level of concern quite a bit on this ship. In fact, they've asked all the sailors sleeping below the water line to move up to the hangar deck. And the ship went into a red alert yesterday, where all the sailors had to wear anti-flash (ph) gear and put on hard hats. So there is -- the concern's taken seriously, but there's no evidence that mines are actually in the water, at this point.

BROWN: Becky, nice work. Thank you. Becky Diamond is up there near Umm Qasr, as they try and clear the waterway.

We take a break. Our coverage continues in a moment.

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