Magazine article National Defense

Navy Rethinking Mine Warfare

Magazine article National Defense

Navy Rethinking Mine Warfare

Article excerpt

One of the Navy's dirty little secrets is that underwater mines have sunk or damaged more of the service's ships than any other means of attack since World War II.

Officials are now warning that potential adversaries such as China are viewing sea-mines as a viable weapon to deny access to U.S. vessels.

"Mines are a serious and widespread threat to Department of Defense access," said Rear Adm. John Christenson, vice commander of the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command. He said the Navy is expanding training efforts so ship crews are prepared to operate in mined waters.

"We want mine warfare to be part of every naval officer's expertise and experience level," he said at an industry conference.

The command plans to train Navy leaders in the specialty and will require every expeditionary and carrier strike group to demonstrate proficiency in mine warfare in the near future.

"Each fleet will have the ability to do mine warfare, just like every fleet has anti-submarine warfare experts," said Christenson.

But there is concern that it could take the Navy many years to train sailors and transition from traditional mine sweepers to the new Littoral Combat Ship, a multi-mission vessel that will take on mine warfare as one of its first capabilities.

Because of cost overruns and delays in its production schedule, the LCS may not enter service as quickly, or in the numbers, as the Navy had expected. The Navy has planned for a fleet of 55 ships.

As envisioned, LCS will deploy with one of three different mission packages for mine, anti-submarine or surface warfare. …

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