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  1. #1
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    Future Underwater Warfare

    In many other threads the topic of MCM comes up, that it should be a function of the replacements of the Peacock, however I would like to widen the discussion as the area of underwater warfare has moved on since WW1/2.

    Lets looks at open sea mines first, these are mainly area denial weapons, trying to funnel the enemy into specific area for other weapons. As such the numbers of mines needed are massive, 1000's if not 10,000's are needed to be able to create an effective minefield. So if we look around the world today the number of navies with any ships with significant mine laying capacity is limited. Thus we could be fairly certain that the level of threat from this type of mine is low, so it should not be a priority.

    However the laying of mines at choke points could easily cripple the nation, the number of harbours that we rely upon is limited, Dublin, Rosslare, Waterford, Cork and the Shannon. Here a few covertly laid mines could easily block the channels and deny us use. Also if we look at likely hot spots around the world the situation is similar. So rather than ocean going vessels what is needed is the capacity to hunt mine close to shore and in harbours. And this capacity is not just for the old contact mine but magnetic, pressure, acoustic and captive mine. Key here is a low signature vessel with a high resolution mine hunting sonar.

    And it need not be a state player using a mine in such an area. It could be a terrorist with a command controlled underwater IED. So something we need to tackle.

    Next would be ASW, and even if it is an aspect we have ignored for years it is more a priority than open-sea mine. Even if the Germans did get lucky a few times around our shores with mines (like off Loch Swilly with HMS Audacious), these were at choke points. Most vessels were lost to submarine attack and this is still more a threat than mines. But means you need to be able politically to identify a potential enemy even if we did at one time have vessels design exactly to hunt subs (Flower class). But ASW could be linked to restricting the ability of someone to mine a harbour entrance. But also even if we have not seen it in the Atlantic yet there had been a development of drug trafficking using subs (semi-sub) on the west coast of the Americas.

    Lastly is something recently highlighted by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach in the UK and that is the threat to underwater cables. But we should also include pipelines in this also. Today we rely upon underwater cables for communication and power while underwater pipelines provide us with an increasing amount of our energy. But these are totally unprotected, and could easily be cut by the simplest of means, either from a surface vessel or submarine. (Oh subs again!) As we develop offshore energy either in the form of gas/oil fields or as wind parks they need to be protected. Thankfully at the moment most are close to shore but the tendency is more and more offshore. And when it comes to communications lines these extend past the limits of our EEZ and past limits of our continental shelf. And we are responsible for there protection.

    So this is just to get the ball rolling

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  3. #2
    Moderator DeV's Avatar
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    Increasingly those low signature vessel with high resolution mine hunting sonar are UUVs which don’t need to be a launched by a dedicated MCMV.

    One thing about undersea cables, it isn’t just cuts we need to worry about. It is interception

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeV View Post
    Increasingly those low signature vessel with high resolution mine hunting sonar are UUVs which don’t need to be a launched by a dedicated MCMV.

    One thing about undersea cables, it isn’t just cuts we need to worry about. It is interception
    no need to worry about that GCHQ are lidtening in. No way to avoid that.

  5. #4
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    The traditional multi horned ( trigger ) sea-mine was laid for denial/ defensive purposes by coastal nations. They were laid to include known charted channels for friendly forces to access ports or make passage. These are the "fields " that required ships to remove such mines with SWEEPS. When some fields had influence mines such as acoustic and magnetic it became necessary to develop MCV's with low magnetic signature built on aluminium framing with wooden planking, and later still built of GRP.
    When advance influence mines, mostly ground mines cylindrical in shape, became frequent in use, then stand-off mine-hunting and mine clearance became today's norm.
    In general moored mines in home waters were YOUR mines and the tricky ones were laid by the enemy by air, or submarine.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ancientmariner View Post
    The traditional multi horned ( trigger ) sea-mine was laid for denial/ defensive purposes by coastal nations. They were laid to include known charted channels for friendly forces to access ports or make passage. These are the "fields " that required ships to remove such mines with SWEEPS. When some fields had influence mines such as acoustic and magnetic it became necessary to develop MCV's with low magnetic signature built on aluminium framing with wooden planking, and later still built of GRP.
    When advance influence mines, mostly ground mines cylindrical in shape, became frequent in use, then stand-off mine-hunting and mine clearance became today's norm.
    In general moored mines in home waters were YOUR mines and the tricky ones were laid by the enemy by air, or submarine.
    The problem we still face, not so much in these waters but elsewhere in europe, was the laying of defensive mines by military regimes no longer in existence. Many of their moored mines have broken free of their confinement, regularly appearing in sea lanes. You need to be able to get to and dispose of said mines, without putting your vessel at risk. The mines can no longer tell who is friend or foe.
    German 1: Private Schnutz, I have bad news for you.
    German 2: Private? I am a general!
    German 1: That is the bad news.

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    I think add on mine hunting equipment might be the way to go. But keep it installed in one or 2 vessels and don't try to shift it around. It is a specific crew skillset The Danes tried that.

  9. #7
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    Yes. I would agree that the skill should be retained on ships so equipped and if possible on a secluded training field. I remember from my teen years sailing the swept channels in the Baltic and browsing over the special charts. The major routes were about a mile wide with center line bouys. This was 12 years after WW11 and still occasional strays turn up.

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    If one wants something more focussed on mine warfare, I just found something on the BMT website: https://www.bmtdsl.co.uk/bmt-design-...bmt-venari-85/

    Can also do hydrograpic reasearch and other useful things, including humanitarian work

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    Moderator DeV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graylion View Post
    If one wants something more focussed on mine warfare, I just found something on the BMT website: https://www.bmtdsl.co.uk/bmt-design-...bmt-venari-85/

    Can also do hydrograpic reasearch and other useful things, including humanitarian work
    http://forum.irishmilitaryonline.com...l=1#post458069

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