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Edited by Christian Lowe | Contact

Mines, anyone?

Let's face it: nobody cares about mine warfare. We're talking slow boring ships plodding around looking for submerged hunks of metal. No guns. ship 2.jpgNo missiles. No screaming fighter jets. No men in green facepaint slipping ashore in the dead of night. Even if mines are, historically, the biggest threat to U.S. warships, mine warfare is so unsexy that it's bound to get ignored until after a billion-dollar amphibious ship gets a hole ripped in it.

But all that's about to change. In a radical move signalling serious commitment to mine warfare, the Navy is abandoning (slow, hard to deploy) dedicated minehunters in favor of (fast, easily deployed) mine-clearing drones aboard destroyers and Littoral Combat Ships. The service is also revamping its airborne minehunting fleet, moving from big, unwieldy Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragons to the smaller Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk carrying wide range of new systems. Finally, Mine Warfare Command is merging with the Navy's antisubmarine warfare office to create a new "undersea warfare center of excellence".

Read the whole story at

--David Axe


Great that mine warfare is getting more attention; I am concerned about the lack of emphasis being paid to ASW, with the potential ramifications vis-a-vis China.

Posted by: EXHELODRVR at August 24, 2006 12:59 PM

"Center of Excellence" ???

Posted by: Moose at August 24, 2006 11:46 AM

Indeed. In 1988, an inexpensive Iranian mine nearly put the USS Samuel B. Roberts on the bottom of the Persian Gulf. With seawater rising around their boots, the crew fought fire and flood into the night to save the ship. The attack provoked the most recent clash between U.S. and Iranian naval forces, Operation Praying Mantis, which became the largest surface battle since World War II. Yet two years later, according to the U.S. Navy's own historians, the service was poorly prepared to clear minefields off Iraq. (There are photos and audio and video clips of the damaged frigate and the subsequent battle at, a companion site to "No Higher Honor," my new Naval Institute Press book about the ship, its crew, and the mining.)

Posted by: Brad at August 23, 2006 03:12 PM

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