Naval mine

The sea is a force to be reckoned with. People have been made by it, and broken by it. But in the Navy, we command it. The sea is our honor, courage and commitment, forging the greatest force on earth.

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A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to damage or destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, any vessel.
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to damage or destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, any vessel.
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to damage or destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, any vessel.
“This is an area that the Navy is taking seriously,” one naval architect familiar with the design told The Daily Beast.
Naval Academy Midshipmen flew with the U.S. Air Force 53rd WRS

“This is an area that the Navy is taking seriously,” one naval architect familiar with the design told The Daily Beast.

Such privateering has been rendered obsolete in blue-water strategy since modern missile and aircraft systems grew to leapfrog over artillery and infantry in many respects; but privateering nevertheless remains potentially relevant in littoral warfare of a limited and asymmetric nature. Naval warfare developed when humans first fought from water-borne vessels. Prior to the introduction of the cannon and ships with sufficient capacity to carry the large guns, navy warfare primarily involved ramming and boarding actions.

In the time of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire , naval warfare centered on long, narrow vessels powered by banks of oarsmen such as triremes and quinqueremes designed to ram and sink enemy vessels or come alongside the enemy vessel so its occupants could be attacked hand-to-hand.

Naval warfare continued in this vein through the Middle Ages until the cannon became commonplace and capable of being reloaded quickly enough to be reused in the same battle. The Chola Navy , Chola kadarpadai comprised the naval forces of the Chola Empire along with several other Naval-arms of the country. In ancient China , large naval battles were known since the Qin Dynasty also see Battle of Red Cliffs , , employing the war junk during the Han Dynasty. However, China's first official standing navy was not established until the Southern Song dynasty in the 12th century, a time when gunpowder was a revolutionary new application to warfare.

The mass and deck space required to carry a large number of cannon made oar-based propulsion impossible, and ships came to rely primarily on sails. Warships were designed to carry increasing numbers of cannon and naval tactics evolved to bring a ship's firepower to bear in a broadside , with ships-of-the-line arranged in a line of battle. The development of large capacity, sail-powered ships carrying cannon led to a rapid expansion of European navies, especially the Spanish and Portuguese navies which dominated in the 16th and early 17th centuries, and helped propel the age of exploration and colonialism.

The repulsion of the Spanish Armada by the English fleet revolutionized naval warfare by the success of a guns-only strategy and caused a major overhaul of the Spanish Navy , partly along English lines, which resulted in even greater dominance by the Spanish.

From the beginning of the 17th century the Dutch cannibalized the Portuguese Empire in the East and, with the immense wealth gained, challenged Spanish hegemony at sea. From the s, Dutch raiders seriously troubled Spanish shipping and, after a number of battles which went both ways, the Dutch Navy finally broke the long dominance of the Spanish Navy in the Battle of the Downs England emerged as a major naval power in the midth century in the first Anglo-Dutch war with a technical victory.

Successive decisive Dutch victories in the second and third Anglo-Dutch Wars confirmed the Dutch mastery of the seas during the Dutch Golden Age , financed by the expansion of the Dutch Empire. The French Navy won some important victories near the end of the 17th century but a focus upon land forces led to the French Navy's relative neglect, which allowed the Royal Navy to emerge with an ever-growing advantage in size and quality, especially in tactics and experience, from Throughout the 18th century the Royal Navy gradually gained ascendancy over the French Navy, with victories in the War of Spanish Succession — , inconclusive battles in the War of Austrian Succession — , victories in the Seven Years' War — , a partial reversal during the American War of Independence — , and consolidation into uncontested supremacy during the 19th century from the Battle of Trafalgar in These conflicts saw the development and refinement of tactics which came to be called the line of battle.

The next stage in the evolution of naval warfare was the introduction of metal plating along the hull sides. The increased mass required steam-powered engines, resulting in an arms race between armor and weapon thickness and firepower. Another significant improvement came with the invention of the rotating turrets, which allowed the guns to be aimed independently of ship movement.

The Russian Navy was considered the third strongest in the world on the eve of the Russo-Japanese War , which turned to be a catastrophe for the Russian military in general and the Russian Navy in particular.

Although neither party lacked courage, the Russians were defeated by the Japanese in the Battle of Port Arthur, which was the first time in warfare that mines were used for offensive purposes. The first practical military submarines were developed in the late 19th century and by the end of World War I had proven to be a powerful arm of naval warfare.

The X-Craft severely damaged her and kept her in port for some months. A major paradigm shift in naval warfare occurred with the introduction of the aircraft carrier.

First at Taranto in and then at Pearl Harbor in , the carrier demonstrated its ability to strike decisively at enemy ships out of sight and range of surface vessels. The Battle of Leyte Gulf was arguably the largest naval battle in history ; it was also the last battle in which battleships played a significant role. By the end of World War II , the carrier had become the dominant force of naval warfare. During the Cold War , the Soviet Navy became a significant armed force, with large numbers of large, heavily armed ballistic missile submarines and extensive use of heavy, long-ranged antisurface missiles to counter the numerous United States carrier battle groups.

A navy typically operates from one or more naval bases. The base is a port that is specialized in naval operations, and often includes housing, a munitions depot , docks for the vessels, and various repair facilities. During times of war temporary bases may be constructed in closer proximity to strategic locations, as it is advantageous in terms of patrols and station-keeping. Nations with historically strong naval forces have found it advantageous to obtain basing rights in other countries in areas of strategic interest.

Navy ships can operate independently or with a group, which may be a small squadron of comparable ships, or a larger naval fleet of various specialized ships. The commander of a fleet travels in the flagship , which is usually the most powerful vessel in the group. Prior to the invention of radio, commands from the flagship were communicated by means of flags.

At night signal lamps could be used for a similar purpose. Later these were replaced by the radio transmitter, or the flashing light when radio silence was needed. A " blue water navy " is designed to operate far from the coastal waters of its home nation. These are ships capable of maintaining station for long periods of time in deep ocean, and will have a long logistical tail for their support.

Many are also nuclear powered to save having to refuel. By contrast a " brown water navy " operates in the coastal periphery and along inland waterways, where larger ocean-going naval vessels can not readily enter. Regional powers may maintain a " green water navy " as a means of localized force projection.

Blue water fleets may require specialized vessels, such as minesweepers , when operating in the littoral regions along the coast. A basic tradition is that all ships commissioned in a navy are referred to as ships rather than vessels, with the exception of destroyers and submarines, which are known as boats. The prefix on a ship's name indicates that it is a commissioned ship. An important tradition on board naval vessels of some nations has been the ship's bell.

This was historically used to mark the passage of time, as warning devices in heavy fog, and for alarms and ceremonies. The ship's captain, and more senior officers are "piped" aboard the ship using a Boatswain's call. By English tradition, ships have been referred to as a "she". However, it was long considered bad luck to permit women to sail on board naval vessels. To do so would invite a terrible storm that would wreck the ship. The only women that were welcomed on board were figureheads mounted on the prow of the ship.

Firing a cannon salute partially disarms the ship, so firing a cannon for no combat reason showed respect and trust. As the tradition evolved, the number of cannon fired became an indication of the rank of the official being saluted.

Historically, navy ships were primarily intended for warfare. They were designed to withstand damage and to inflict the same, but only carried munitions and supplies for the voyage rather than merchant cargo. Often, other ships which were not built specifically for warfare, such as the galleon or the armed merchant ships in World War II , did carry armaments.

In more recent times, navy ships have become more specialized and have included supply ships, troop transports, repair ships, oil tankers and other logistics support ships as well as combat ships.

Modern navy combat ships are generally divided into seven main categories: There are also support and auxiliary ships, including the oiler , minesweeper , patrol boat , hydrographic and oceanographic survey ship and tender. During the age of sail , the ship categories were divided into the ship of the line , frigate, and sloop-of-war.

Naval ship names are typically prefixed by an abbreviation indicating the national navy in which they serve. Today ships are significantly faster than in former times, thanks to much improved propulsion systems. Also, the efficiency of the engines has improved, in terms of fuel, and of how many sailors it takes to operate them. In World War II, ships needed to refuel very often.

However, today ships can go on very long journeys without refueling. Also, in World War II, the engine room needed about a dozen sailors to work the many engines, however, today, only about 4—5 are needed depending on the class of the ship. Today, naval strike groups on longer missions are always followed by a range of support and replenishment ships supplying them with anything from fuel and munitions, to medical treatment and postal services.

This allows strike groups and combat ships to remain at sea for several months at a time. The term "boat" refers to small craft limited in their use by size and usually not capable of making lengthy independent voyages at sea. The old navy adage to differentiate between ships and boats is that boats are capable of being carried by ships. Submarines by this rule are ships rather than boats, but are customarily referred to as boats reflecting their previous smaller size.

Navies use many types of boat, ranging from 9-foot 2. They are powered by either diesel engines, out-board gasoline engines, or waterjets.

Despite their high cost Russian rubles the Nobel mines proved to be faulty, exploding while being laid, failing to explode or detaching from their wires and drifting uncontrollably, at least 70 of them were subsequently disarmed by the British. In , more Jacobi mines were laid around Krostadt and Lisy Nos.

British ships did not dare to approach them. In the 19th century, mines were called torpedoes , a name probably conferred by Robert Fulton after the torpedo fish , which gives powerful electric shocks.

A spar torpedo was a mine attached to a long pole and detonated when the ship carrying it rammed another one and withdrew a safe distance. A Harvey torpedo was a type of floating mine towed alongside a ship and was briefly in service in the Royal Navy in the s. Other "torpedoes" were attached to ships or propelled themselves. One such weapon called the Whitehead torpedo after its inventor, caused the word "torpedo" to apply to self-propelled underwater missiles as well as to static devices.

These mobile devices were also known as "fish torpedos". The American Civil War of also saw the successful use of mines. After the United States adopted the mine as its primary weapon for coastal defense.

In the decade following , Major Henry Larcom Abbot carried out a lengthy set of experiments to design and test moored mines that could be exploded on contact or be detonated at will as enemy shipping passed near them.

This initial development of mines in the United States took place under the purview of the U. During the Battle of Tamsui , in the Keelung Campaign of the Sino-French War , Chinese forces in Taiwan under Liu Mingchuan took measures to reinforce Tamsui against the French; they planted nine torpedo mines in the river and blocked the entrance.

During the Boxer Rebellion , Imperial Chinese forces deployed a command-detonated mine field at the mouth of the Peiho river before the Dagu forts , to prevent the western Allied forces from sending ships to attack. The next major use of mines was during the Russo-Japanese War of — Two mines blew up when the Petropavlovsk struck them near Port Arthur , sending the holed vessel to the bottom and killing the fleet commander, Admiral Stepan Makarov , and most of his crew in the process.

The toll inflicted by mines was not confined to the Russians, however. The Japanese Navy lost two battleships, four cruisers, two destroyers and a torpedo-boat to offensively laid mines during the war.

Most famously, on May 15, , the Russian minelayer Amur planted a mine minefield off Port Arthur and succeeded in sinking the Japanese battleships Hatsuse and Yashima. Following the end of the Russo-Japanese War, several nations attempted to have mines banned as weapons of war at the Hague Peace Conference Many early mines were fragile and dangerous to handle, as they contained glass containers filled with nitroglycerin or mechanical devices that activated a blast upon tipping.

Several mine-laying ships were destroyed when their cargo exploded. Beginning around the start of the 20th century, submarine mines played a major role in the defense of U. The mines employed were controlled mines, anchored to the bottoms of the harbors and detonated under control from large mine casemates on shore.

During World War I , mines were used extensively to defend coasts, coastal shipping, ports and naval bases around the globe. The Germans laid mines in shipping lanes to sink merchant and naval vessels serving Britain. During a period of five months from June almost 70, mines were laid spanning the North Sea's northern exits. During World War II , the U-boat fleet, which dominated much of the battle of the Atlantic, was small at the beginning of the war and much of the early action by German forces involved mining convoy routes and ports around Britain.

Initially, contact mines—requiring a ship to physically strike a mine to detonate it—were employed, usually tethered at the end of a cable just below the surface of the water.

Contact mines usually blew a hole in ships' hulls. By the beginning of World War II, most nations had developed mines that could be dropped from aircraft and floated on the surface, making it possible to lay them in enemy harbours. The use of dredging and nets was effective against this type of mine, but this consumed valuable time and resources, and required harbours to be closed.

Later, some ships survived mine blasts, limping into port with buckled plates and broken backs. This appeared to be due to a new type of mine, detecting ships by their proximity to the mine an influence mine and detonating at a distance, causing damage with the shock wave of the explosion. Ships that had successfully run the gauntlet of the Atlantic crossing were sometimes destroyed entering freshly cleared British harbours. More shipping was being lost than could be replaced, and Churchill ordered the intact recovery of one of these new mines to be of the highest priority.

The British experienced a stroke of luck in November when a German mine was dropped from an aircraft onto the mud flats off Shoeburyness during low tide. Additionally, the land belonged to the army and a base with men and workshops was at hand.

Experts were dispatched from HMS Vernon to investigate the mine. They had some idea that the mines could use magnetic sensors, so everyone removed all metal, including their buttons, and made tools of non-magnetic brass. They disarmed the mine and rushed it to labs at HMS Vernon, where scientists discovered a new type of arming mechanism. A large ferrous object passing through the Earth's magnetic field will concentrate the field through it; the mine's detector was designed to trigger as a ship passed over, when its magnetic field was concentrated as measured by the mine.

The mechanism had an adjustable sensitivity, calibrated in milligauss. As it turned out, the German firing mechanism was overly sensitive, making sweeping easier. From this data, methods were developed to clear the mines. Early methods included the use of large electromagnets dragged behind ships or below low-flying aircraft a number of older bombers like the Vickers Wellington were used for this.

Both of these methods had the disadvantage of "sweeping" only a small strip. A better solution was found in the "Double-L Sweep" [25] using electrical cables dragged behind ships that passed large pulses of current through the seawater.

This induced a large magnetic field and swept the entire area between the two ships. The older methods continued to be used in smaller areas. The Suez Canal continued to be swept by aircraft, for instance. While these methods were useful for clearing mines from local ports, they were of little or no use for enemy-controlled areas.

These were typically visited by warships, and the majority of the fleet then underwent a massive degaussing process, where their hulls had a slight "south" bias induced into them which offset the concentration effect almost to zero. Initially, major warships and large troopships had a copper degaussing coil fitted around the perimeter of the hull, energized by the ship's electrical system whenever in suspected magnetic-mined waters.

This was felt to be impracticable for the myriad of smaller warships and merchant vessels, mainly because the ships lacked the generating capacity to energise such a coil. It was found that "wiping" a current-carrying cable up and down a ship's hull [28] temporarily cancelled the ships' magnetic signature sufficiently to nullify the threat.

This started in late , and by merchant vessels and the smaller British warships were largely immune for a few months at a time until they once again built up a field. Many of the boats that sailed to Dunkirk were degaussed in a marathon four-day effort by degaussing stations. The Allies deployed acoustic mines, against which even wooden- hulled ships in particular minesweepers remained vulnerable.

This was profligate and ineffectual; used against acoustic mines at Penang , bombs were needed to detonate just 13 mines.

The Germans had also developed a pressure-activated mine and planned to deploy it as well, but they saved it for later use when it became clear the British had defeated the magnetic system. Mining campaigns could have devastating consequences. When the war ended, more than 25, U.

During the Iran—Iraq War from to , the belligerents mined several areas of the Persian Gulf and nearby waters. In the summer of , magnetic sea mines damaged at least 19 ships in the Red Sea. United States , the International Court of Justice ruled that this mining was a violation of international law. The earliest mines were usually of this type.

They are still used today, as they are extremely low cost compared to any other anti-ship weapon and are effective, both as a psychological weapon and as a method to sink enemy ships. Contact mines need to be touched by the target before they detonate, limiting the damage to the direct effects of the explosion and usually affecting only the vessel that triggers them. Early mines had mechanical mechanisms to detonate them, but these were superseded in the s by the "Hertz horn" or "chemical horn" , which was found to work reliably even after the mine had been in the sea for several years.

The mine's upper half is studded with hollow lead protuberances, each containing a glass vial filled with sulfuric acid. When a ship's hull crushes the metal horn, it cracks the vial inside it, allowing the acid to run down a tube and into a lead—acid battery which until then contained no acid electrolyte. This energizes the battery, which detonates the explosive.

Earlier forms of the detonator employed a vial of sulfuric acid surrounded by a mixture of potassium perchlorate and sugar. When the vial was crushed, the acid ignited the perchlorate-sugar mix, and the resulting flame ignited the gunpowder charge. Later, the American antenna mine was widely used because submarines could be at any depth from the surface to the seabed.

This type of mine had a copper wire attached to a buoy that floated above the explosive charge which was weighted to the seabed with a steel cable.

If a submarine's steel hull touched the copper wire, the slight voltage change caused by contact between two dissimilar metals was amplified [ clarification needed ] and detonated the explosives.

Limpet mines are a special form of contact mine that are manually attached to the target by magnets and remain in place. They are named because of the similarity to the limpet , a mollusk. Generally, this mine type is set to float just below the surface of the water or as deep as five meters. A steel cable connecting the mine to an anchor on the seabed prevents it from drifting away.

The explosive and detonating mechanism is contained in a buoyant metal or plastic shell. The depth below the surface at which the mine floats can be set so that only deep draft vessels such as aircraft carriers, battleships or large cargo ships are at risk, saving the mine from being used on a less valuable target.

In littoral waters it is important to ensure that the mine does not become visible when the sea level falls at low tide, so the cable length is adjusted to take account of tides. TNT , minol or amatol. However, they were more feared than effective. Sometimes floating mines break from their moorings and become drifting mines; modern mines are designed to deactivate in this event. After several years at sea, the deactivation mechanism might not function as intended and the mines may remain live.

Admiral Jellicoe 's British fleet did not pursue and destroy the outnumbered German High Seas Fleet when it turned away at the Battle of Jutland because he thought they were leading him into a trap: The drifting mines were much harder to remove than tethered mines after the war, and they caused about the same damage to both sides.

Churchill promoted " Operation Royal Marine " in and again in where floating mines were put into the Rhine in France to float down the river, becoming active after a time calculated to be long enough to reach German territory.

Frequently used in combination with coastal artillery and hydrophones, controlled mines or command detonation mines can be in place in peacetime, which is a huge advantage in blocking important shipping routes. The mines can usually be turned into "normal" mines with a switch which prevents the enemy from simply capturing the controlling station and deactivating the mines , detonated on a signal or be allowed to detonate on their own.

The earliest ones were developed around by Robert Fulton. The first remotely controlled mines were moored mines used in the American Civil War, detonated electrically from shore. They were considered superior to contact mines because they did not put friendly shipping at risk. These mines are triggered by the influence of a ship or submarine, rather than direct contact. Such mines incorporate electronic sensors designed to detect the presence of a vessel and detonate when it comes within the blast range of the warhead.

The fuzes on such mines may incorporate one or more of the following sensors: The sophistication of influence mine fuzes has increased considerably over the years as first transistors and then microprocessors have been incorporated into designs. Simple magnetic sensors have been superseded by total-field magnetometers. Whereas early magnetic mine fuzes would respond only to changes in a single component of a target vessel's magnetic field, a total field magnetometer responds to changes in the magnitude of the total background field thus enabling it to better detect even degaussed ships.

Similarly, the original broadband hydrophones of s acoustic mines which operate on the integrated volume of all frequencies have been replaced by narrow-band sensors which are much more sensitive and selective. Mines can now be programmed to listen for highly specific acoustic signatures e.

The sophistication of modern electronic mine fuzes incorporating these digital signal processing capabilities makes it much more difficult to detonate the mine with electronic countermeasures because several sensors working together e. Modern influence mines such as the BAE Stonefish are computerised , with all the programmability this implies, such as the ability to quickly load new acoustic signatures into fuzes, or program them to detect a single, highly distinctive target signature.

In this way, a mine with a passive acoustic fuze can be programmed to ignore all friendly vessels and small enemy vessels, only detonating when a very large enemy target passes over it.

Alternatively, the mine can be programmed specifically to ignore all surface vessels regardless of size and exclusively target submarines. Even as far back as WWII it was possible to incorporate a "ship counter" function in mine fuzes. This might set the mine to ignore the first two ships passing over it which could be minesweepers deliberately trying to trigger mines but detonate when the third ship passes overhead, which could be a high-value target such as an aircraft carrier or oil tanker.

Even though modern mines are generally powered by a long life lithium battery , it is important to conserve power because they may need to remain active for months or even years. For this reason, most influence mines are designed to remain in a semi-dormant state until an unpowered e. It is possible to program computerised mines to delay activation for days or weeks after being laid. Similarly, they can be programmed to self-destruct or render themselves safe after a preset period of time.

Generally, the more sophisticated the mine design, the more likely it is to have some form of anti-handling device to hinder clearance by divers or remotely piloted submersibles. The moored mine is the backbone of modern mine systems.

They are deployed where water is too deep for bottom mines. They can use several kinds of instruments to detect an enemy, usually a combination of acoustic, magnetic and pressure sensors, or more sophisticated optical shadows or electro potential sensors. These cost many times more than contact mines. Moored mines are effective against most kinds of ships. As they are cheaper than other anti-ship weapons they can be deployed in large numbers, making them useful area denial or "channelizing" weapons.

Moored mines usually have lifetimes of more than 10 years, and some almost unlimited. Bottom mines are used when the water is no more than 60 meters feet deep or when mining for submarines down to around meters feet. They are much harder to detect and sweep, and can carry a much larger warhead than a moored mine. Bottom mines commonly utilize multiple types of sensors, which are less sensitive to sweeping.

The bouquet mine is a single anchor attached to several floating mines. It is designed so that when one mine is swept or detonated, another takes its place. It is a very sensitive construction and lacks reliability.

When the wire of a mine sweep hits the mine, it sinks, letting the sweep wire drag along the anchoring wire of the mine until the sweep hits the mine. That detonates the mine and cuts the sweeping wire.

They are very cheap and usually used in combination with other mines in a minefield to make sweeping more difficult. The mine is hydrostatically controlled to maintain a pre-set depth below the water's surface independently of the rise and fall of the tide.

The ascending mine is a floating distance mine that may cut its mooring or in some other way float higher when it detects a target. It lets a single floating mine cover a much larger depth range.

These are mines containing a moving weapon as a warhead, either a torpedo or a rocket. It is intended to allow a bottom mine to attack surface ships as well as submarines from a greater depth. One type is the Te-1 rocket propelled mine.

Generally, torpedo mines incorporate computerised acoustic and magnetic fuzes. Mark 24 "mine", code-named Fido , was actually an ASW homing torpedo. The mine designation was disinformation to conceal its function. The mine is propelled to its intended position by propulsion equipment such as a torpedo. After reaching its destination, it sinks to the seabed and operates like a standard mine.

It differs from the homing mine in that its mobile stage is before it lays in wait, rather than as part of the attacking phase. One such design is the Mk 67 submarine launched mobile mine [46] which is based on a Mark 37 torpedo are capable of travelling as far as 10 miles through or into a channel, harbor, shallow water area and other zones which would normally be inaccessible to craft laying the device.

After reaching the target area they sink to the sea bed and act like conventionally laid influence mines. During the Cold War a test was conducted with naval mine fitted with tactical nuclear warheads for the "Baker" shot of Operation Crossroads.

This weapon was experimental and never went into production. This comprises two moored, floating contact mines which are tethered together by a length of steel cable or chain. When the target ship hits the steel cable, the mines on either side are drawn down the side of the ship's hull, exploding on contact. In this manner it is almost impossible for target ships to pass safely between two individually moored mines.

Daisy-chained mines are a very simple concept which was used during World War II. Plastic drums filled with sand or concrete are periodically rolled off the side of ships as real mines are laid in large mine-fields. These inexpensive false targets designed to be of a similar shape and size as genuine mines are intended to slow down the process of mine clearance: Often a maker of naval mines will provide both training and dummy versions of their mines.

Historically several methods were used to lay mines. In WWII, aircraft came into favour for mine laying with one of the largest examples being the mining of the Japanese sea routes in Operation Starvation.

Laying a minefield is a relatively fast process with specialized ships, which is today the most common method. These minelayers can carry several thousand mines [ citation needed ] and manoeuvre with high precision. The mines are dropped at predefined intervals into the water behind the ship.

Each mine is recorded for later clearing, but it is not unusual for these records to be lost together with the ships. Therefore, many countries demand that all mining operations be planned on land and records kept so that the mines can later be recovered more easily. In some cases, mines are automatically activated upon contact with the water. In others, a safety lanyard is pulled one end attached to the rail of a ship, aircraft or torpedo tube which starts an automatic timer countdown before the arming process is complete.

Typically, the automatic safety-arming process takes some minutes to complete. This allows the people laying the mines sufficient time to move out of its activation and blast zones.

In the s, Germany had experimented with the laying of mines by aircraft. It became a crucial element in their overall mining strategy. Aircraft had the advantage of speed, and they would never get caught in their own minefields. From April to June , the Luftwaffe laid 1, mines in British waters. Soviet ports were mined, as was the Arctic convoy route to Murmansk. A very large chemical mine was designed to sink through ice with the aid of a melting compound. In September , the UK announced the placement of extensive defensive minefields in waters surrounding the Home Islands.

Offensive aerial mining operations began in April when 38 mines were laid at each of these locations: In the next 20 months, mines delivered by aircraft sank or damaged Axis ships with the loss of 94 aircraft.

By comparison, direct aerial attacks on Axis shipping had sunk or damaged vessels at a cost of aircraft lost.

The advantage of aerial mining became clear, and the UK prepared for it. The United States' early aerial mining efforts used smaller aircraft unable to carry many mines. Using Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bombers, the US Navy mounted a direct aerial mining attack on enemy shipping in Palau on 30 March in concert with simultaneous conventional bombing and strafing attacks.

The dropping of 78 mines stopped 32 Japanese ships from escaping Koror harbor; the combined operation sank or damaged 36 ships. First, aerial mines would have to be developed further and manufactured in large numbers. Second, laying the mines would require a sizable air group. The US Navy lacked suitable aircraft. Johnson set about convincing General Curtis LeMay of the efficacy of heavy bombers laying aerial mines. Both British and American mines were used. Japanese merchant shipping suffered tremendous losses, while Japanese mine sweeping forces were spread too thin attending to far-flung ports and extensive coastlines.

Kinkaid , who directed nearly all RAAF mining operations in CBI, heartily endorsed aerial mining, writing in July that "aerial mining operations were of the order of times as destructive to the enemy as an equal number of bombing missions against land targets.

Prince Fumimaro Konoe said after the war that the aerial mining by Bs had been "equally as effective as the B attacks on Japanese industry at the closing stages of the war when all food supplies and critical material were prevented from reaching the Japanese home islands.

Survey analysts projected that this would have starved Japan, forcing an earlier end to the war. Johnson looked at the Japan inner zone shipping results, comparing the total economic cost of submarine-delivered mines versus air-dropped mines and found that, though 1 in 12 submarine mines connected with the enemy as opposed to 1 in 21 for aircraft mines, the aerial mining operation was about ten times less expensive per enemy ton sunk.

Between , and 1,, naval mines of all types were laid in WWII. Advancing military forces worked to clear mines from newly-taken areas, but extensive minefields remained in place after the war. Air-dropped mines had an additional problem for mine sweeping operations: In Japan, much of the B mine-laying work had been performed at high altitude, with the drifting on the wind of mines carried by parachute adding a randomizing factor to their placement.

Generalized danger areas were identified, with only the quantity of mines given in detail. Mines used in Operation Starvation were supposed to be self-sterilizing, but the circuit did not always work. Clearing the mines from Japanese waters took so many years that the task was eventually given to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

For the purpose of clearing all types of naval mines, the Royal Navy employed German crews and minesweepers from June to January , [66] organised in the German Mine Sweeping Administration GMSA , which consisted of 27, members of the former Kriegsmarine and vessels.

Two such examples were the liberty ships Pierre Gibault which was scrapped after hitting a mine in a previously cleared area off the Greek island of Kythira in June , [68] and Nathaniel Bacon which hit a minefield off Civitavecchia , Italy in December , caught fire, was beached, and broke in two.

The damage that may be caused by a mine depends on the " shock factor value", a combination of the initial strength of the explosion and of the distance between the target and the detonation. Usually only created by contact mines, direct damage is a hole blown in the ship. Among the crew, fragmentation wounds are the most common form of damage.

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