You are on page 1of 3

Minesweeping

Minesweeping is the practice of the removal of explosive naval mines, usually by a


specially designed ship called a minesweeper using various measures to either
capture or detonate the mines, but sometimes also with an aircraft made for that
purpose. Minesweeping has been practiced since the advent of naval mining in 1855
in the Crimean War. The first minesweepers date to that war and consisted of British
rowboats trailing grapnels to snag the mines.[1]

Contents
By ship
By aircraft
See also
References

An MH-53E from HM-15 tows a


By ship minesweeping sled while conducting
simulated mine clearing operations
A sweep is either a contact sweep, a wire dragged through the water by one or two
ships to cut the mooring wire of floating mines, or a distance sweep that mimics a
ship to detonate the mines. The sweeps are dragged by minesweepers, either
purpose-built military ships or converted trawlers. Each run covers between 100 and
200 meters (330 and 660 ft), and the ships must move slowly in a straight line,
making them vulnerable to enemy fire. This was exploited by the Turkish army in
the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915, when mobile howitzer batteries prevented the British
and French from clearing a way through minefields.

If a contact sweep hits a mine, the wire of the sweep rubs against the mooring wire
until it is cut. Sometimes "cutters", explosive devices to cut the mine's wire, are used
to lessen the strain on the sweeping wire. Mines cut free are recorded and collected Minesweeper USS Tide after striking
for research or shot with a deck gun.[2] a mine off Utah Beach, 7 June 1944.
Note her broken back, with smoke
Minesweepers protect themselves with an oropesa or paravane instead of a second pouring from amidships.
minesweeper. These are torpedo-shaped towed bodies, similar in shape to a Harvey
Torpedo, that are streamed from the sweeping vessel thus keeping the sweep at a
determined depth and position. Some large warships were routinely equipped with paravane sweeps near the bows in case they
inadvertently sailed into minefields—the mine would be deflected towards the paravane by the wire instead of towards the ship by its
r.[3]
wake. More recently, heavy-lift helicopters have dragged minesweeping sleds, as in the 1991 Persian Gulf aW

The distance sweep mimics the sound and magnetism of a ship and is pulled behind the sweeper. It has floating coils and large
underwater drums. It is the only sweep effective against bottom mines.

During the Second World War, RAF Coastal Command used Vickers Wellington bombers Wellington DW.Mk I fitted with
degaussing coils to trigger magnetic mines.[4]
Modern influence mines are designed to discriminate against false inputs and are therefore much harder to sweep. They often contain
inherent anti-sweeping mechanisms. For example, they may be programmed to respond to the unique noise of a particular ship-type,
its associated magnetic signature and the typical pressure displacement of such a vessel. As a result, a mine-sweeper must accurately
guess and mimic the required target signature in order to trigger detonation. The task is complicated by the fact that an influence mine
may have one or more of a hundred different potential target signatures programmed into it.[5]

Another anti-sweeping mechanism is a ship-counter in the mine fuze. When enabled, this allows detonation only after the mine fuze
has been triggered a pre-set number of times. To further complicate matters, influence mines may be programmed to arm themselves
(or disarm automatically—known as self-sterilization) after a pre-set time. During the pre-set arming delay (which could last days or
get stimulus, whether genuine or faked.[5]
even weeks) the mine would remain dormant and ignore any tar

When influence mines are laid in an ocean minefield, they may have various combinations of fuze settings configured. For example,
some mines (with the acoustic sensor enabled) may become active within three hours of being laid, others (with the acoustic and
magnetic sensors enabled) may become active after two weeks but have the ship-counter mechanism set to ignore the first two trigger
events, and still others in the same minefield (with the magnetic and pressure sensors enabled) may not become armed until three
weeks have passed. Groups of mines within this mine-field may have different target signatures which may or may not overlap. The
[5]
fuzes on influence mines allow many different permutations, which complicates the clearance process.

Mines with ship-counters, arming delays and highly specific target signatures in mine fuses can falsely convince a belligerent that a
particular area is clear of mines or has been swept ef
fectively because a succession of vessels have already passed through safely
.

By aircraft
Aircraft can also be used for minesweeping. During World War II, fifteen British Vickers
Wellington bombers were modified to carry a large magnetic induction loop and an electrical
generator. The 'Directional Wireless Installation' (DWI), a cover story for the true purpose of
the magnetic loop, was used successfully on May 10, 1940 to sweep a path for the escape of
the Dutch Royal Family to the UK. The DWI was used most successfully in the
Mediterranean theatre, particularly over the Suez Canal and Alexandria Harbour. Their use
revealed the limitations of the technique, in that it only works effectively in very shallow
water (such as canals and harbours). From about 1943, German Junkers Ju 52 transports were
similarly converted. Blohm & Voss BV 138 MS tri-engine flying boats were also used for this
purpose.

The MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter is used primarily by the United States Navy to tow
several types of mine hunting or mine sweeping gear through the water. It replaced the earlier,
RH-53A and RH-53D variants of the Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion. Other examples of An MH-53E of the United
minesweeping helicopters include the RH-3A variant of the Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King, as well States Navy towing an
as the Mi-14BT variant of the Mil Mi-14 and the MCH-101 variant of the Augusta Westlund MK105 mine sweeping sled.
AW101.

See also
Minehunter

References
1. Howard S. Levie, Mine Warfare at Sea (1992), p. 119.
2. "Mine Sweeping Operations"(https://web.archive.org/web/20090402163450/http://www .ussimplicitmso-455.com/Min
esweeping.html). Minesweeping. Charles Lees. Archived fromthe original (http://www.ussimplicitmso-455.com/Mine
sweeping.html) on 2009-04-02. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
3. "Paravane - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-W
ebster Dictionary" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictio
nary/paravane). Merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
4. "Britain's Vickers Wellington bomber, 'Wimpey' " (http://www.wwiivehicles.com/unitedkingdom/aircraft/bomber/vickers
-wellington.asp). World War II Vehicles, Tanks, and Airplanes. Wwiivehicles.com. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
5. Garrold, Tim (December 1998). "Mine Counter-Counter Measures (MCCM)"(http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/navy/d
ocs/swos/cmd/miw/Sp6-4-1/sld034.htm). Mine Warfare Introduction: The Threat. Surface Warfare Officers School
Command, U.S. Navy. Retrieved 2011-12-31. Slide 34 of 81. Hosted by Federation of American Scientists.

Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Minesweeping&oldid=807553320


"

This page was last edited on 28 October 2017, at 18:19.

Text is available under theCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License ; additional terms may apply. By using this
site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of theWikimedia
Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.