Minesweeper (ship)
Overview
 
A minesweeper is a small naval warship
Warship
A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

 designed to counter the threat posed by naval mine
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to 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, an enemy vessel...

s. Minesweepers generally detect then neutralize mines in advance of other naval operations.
In Britain naval leaders recognized before the outbreak of World War I that the development of sea mines was a threat to the nation's supply and began efforts to counter the threat. Sir Arthur Wilson noted the real threat of the time was blockade aided by mines and not invasion.
Encyclopedia
A minesweeper is a small naval warship
Warship
A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

 designed to counter the threat posed by naval mine
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to 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, an enemy vessel...

s. Minesweepers generally detect then neutralize mines in advance of other naval operations.

History

In Britain naval leaders recognized before the outbreak of World War I that the development of sea mines was a threat to the nation's supply and began efforts to counter the threat. Sir Arthur Wilson noted the real threat of the time was blockade aided by mines and not invasion. The function of the fishing fleet's trawlers with their trawl gear was recognized as having a natural connection with mine clearance. A Trawler Section of the Royal Navy Reserve became the predecessor of the mine sweeping forces with specially designed ships and equipment to follow. These reserve Trawler Section fishermen and their trawlers were activated, supplied with mine gear, rifles, uniforms and pay as the first minesweepers. The dedicated, purpose-built minesweeper first appeared during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 with the Flower-class minesweeping sloop
Flower class sloop
The Flower class comprised five sub-classes of sloops built under the Emergency War Programme for the Royal Navy during World War I, all of which were named after various flowers...

.

Operation and requirements

Minesweepers are equipped with mechanical or influence sweeps to detonate mines. The modern minesweeper is designed to reduce the chances of it detonating mines itself; it is soundproofed
Soundproofing
Soundproofing is any means of reducing the sound pressure with respect to a specified sound source and receptor. There are several basic approaches to reducing sound: increasing the distance between source and receiver, using noise barriers to reflect or absorb the energy of the sound waves, using...

 to reduce its acoustic signature
Acoustic signature
Acoustic signature is used to describe a combination of acoustic emissions of ships and submarines.-Contributing factors:The acoustic signature is made up of a number of individual elements...

 and often constructed using wood
Wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

, glass-reinforced plastic
Glass-reinforced plastic
Fiberglass , is a fiber reinforced polymer made of a plastic matrix reinforced by fine fibers of glass. It is also known as GFK ....

 (GRP) or non-ferrous metal
Non-ferrous metal
In metallurgy, a non-ferrous metal is a metal that is not ferrous, that is, any metal, including alloys, that does not contain iron in appreciable amounts...

, or is degaussed
Degaussing
Degaussing is the process of decreasing or eliminating an unwanted magnetic field. It is named after Carl Friedrich Gauss, an early researcher in the field of magnetism...

 to reduce its magnetic signature
Magnetism
Magnetism is a property of materials that respond at an atomic or subatomic level to an applied magnetic field. Ferromagnetism is the strongest and most familiar type of magnetism. It is responsible for the behavior of permanent magnets, which produce their own persistent magnetic fields, as well...

.

Mechanical sweeps are devices designed to cut the anchoring cables of moored mines, and preferably attach a tag to help the subsequent localization and neutralization. They are towed behind the minesweeper, and use a towed body (e.g. oropesa
Oropesa
An Oropesa is a streamlined towed body used in the process of minesweeping. The role of the Oropesa is to keep the towed sweep at a determined depth and position from the sweeping ship....

, paravane
Paravane
Paravane may refer to:* Operation Paravane, a World War II operation* Paravane , a towed winged underwater object* Paravane , a towed underwater minesweeping device...

) to maintain the sweep at the desired depth and position. Influence sweeps are equipment, often towed, that emulate a particular ship signature, thereby causing a mine to detonate. The most common such sweeps are magnetic and acoustic generators.

There are two modes of operating an influence sweep: MSM (mine setting mode) and TSM (target simulation mode or target setting mode). MSM sweeping is founded on intelligence on a given type of mine, and produces the output required for detonation of this mine. If such intelligence is unavailable, the TSM sweeping instead reproduces the influence of the friendly ship that is about to transit through the area. TSM sweeping thus clears mines directed at this ship without knowledge of the mines. However, mines directed at other ships might remain.
The minesweeper differs from a minehunter
Minehunter
Minehunters are mine countermeasure vessels that actively detect and destroy individual naval mines. Minesweepers, on the other hand, clear mined areas as a whole, without prior detection of mines...

; the minehunter actively detects and neutralises individual mines. Minesweepers are in many cases complementary to minehunters, depending on the operation and the environment; a minesweeper is, in particular, better suited to clearing open-water areas with large numbers of mines. Both kinds of ships are collectively called mine countermeasure vessels (MCMV), a term also applied to a vessel that combines both roles. The first such ship was HMS Wilton
HMS Wilton (M1116)
HMS Wilton was a prototype coastal minesweeper/minehunter for the Royal Navy. She was the first warship in the world to be constructed from glass-reinforced plastic. Her design was based upon the existing Ton class minesweepers, and she was fitted with equipment recovered from the scrapped HMS...

, also the first warship to be constructed from glass-reinforced plastic
Glass-reinforced plastic
Fiberglass , is a fiber reinforced polymer made of a plastic matrix reinforced by fine fibers of glass. It is also known as GFK ....

.

Minesweeping aircraft

Aircraft can also be used for minesweeping. During World War II, fifteen British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 Vickers Wellington
Vickers Wellington
The Vickers Wellington was a British twin-engine, long range medium bomber designed in the mid-1930s at Brooklands in Weybridge, Surrey, by Vickers-Armstrongs' Chief Designer, R. K. Pierson. It was widely used as a night bomber in the early years of the Second World War, before being displaced as a...

 bomber
Bomber
A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground and sea targets, by dropping bombs on them, or – in recent years – by launching cruise missiles at them.-Classifications of bombers:...

s were modified to carry a large magnetic induction
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

 loop and an electrical generator
Electrical generator
In electricity generation, an electric generator is a device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. A generator forces electric charge to flow through an external electrical circuit. It is analogous to a water pump, which causes water to flow...

. 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
Monarchy of the Netherlands
The Netherlands has been an independent monarchy since 16 March 1815, and has been governed by members of the House of Orange-Nassau since.-Constitutional role and position of the monarch:...

 to the UK. The DWI was used most successfully in the Mediterranean theatre, particularly over the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 and Alexandria Harbour
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

. 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
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 Junkers Ju 52
Junkers Ju 52
The Junkers Ju 52 was a German transport aircraft manufactured from 1932 to 1945. It saw both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with over 12 air carriers including Swissair and Deutsche Luft Hansa as an airliner and freight hauler...

 transports
Military transport aircraft
Military transport aircraft are typically fixed and rotary wing cargo aircraft which are used to deliver troops, weapons and other military equipment by a variety of methods to any area of military operations around the surface of the planet, usually outside of the commercial flight routes in...

 were similarly converted. Blohm & Voss BV 138 MS tri-engine flying boats were also used for this purpose.
The MH-53E Sea Dragon
CH-53E Super Stallion
The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the United States military. It was developed from the CH-53 Sea Stallion, mainly by adding a third engine, a seventh blade to the main rotor and canting the tail rotor 20 degrees. Sailors commonly refer to the Super...

 helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

, which tows a minesweeping sled, is used by the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 for minesweeping

Notable minesweepers

– famous for her escape from Surabaya
Surabaya
Surabaya is Indonesia's second-largest city with a population of over 2.7 million , and the capital of the province of East Java...

 in 1942 disguised as a tropical island – formerly commanded by HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir apparent and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay...

  • Calypso
    Calypso (ship)
    RV Calypso is a former British Royal Navy Minesweeper converted into a research vessel for the oceanographic researcher Jacques-Yves Cousteau, equipped with a mobile laboratory for underwater field research. She was severely damaged in 1996, and is undergoing a complete refurbishment in 2009-2011...

     – research vessel of Jacques-Yves Cousteau
    Jacques-Yves Cousteau
    Jacques-Yves Cousteau was a French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water...

    ; the ex-Royal Navy BYMS-class
    BYMS class minesweeper
    The BYMS class was a class of wooden motor minesweepers, part of the US Navy YMS Yard class minesweepers. 150 ships destined for UK were launched from 1941 to 1943....

     vessel J826 – museum ship at Omaha, Nebraska
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska, United States, and is the county seat of Douglas County. It is located in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about 20 miles north of the mouth of the Platte River...

     – the first combined MCMV and the first warship constructed from GRP
    Glass-reinforced plastic
    Fiberglass , is a fiber reinforced polymer made of a plastic matrix reinforced by fine fibers of glass. It is also known as GFK ....

    . Now converted to a yacht club's club house and moored on the foreshore between Leigh-on-Sea and Westcliff in Essex, England

See also

  • List of minesweeper classes
  • Minehunter
    Minehunter
    Minehunters are mine countermeasure vessels that actively detect and destroy individual naval mines. Minesweepers, on the other hand, clear mined areas as a whole, without prior detection of mines...

  • Demining
    Demining
    Demining or mine clearance is the process of removing either land mines, or naval mines, from an area, while minesweeping describes the act of detecting of mines. There are two distinct types of mine detection and removal: military and humanitarian.Minesweepers use many tools in order to accomplish...

  • List of mine warfare vessels of the United States Navy
  • List of mine countermeasure vessels of the Royal Navy

Further reading

  • Bruhn, David D.. (2006). Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The U.S. Navy's Ocean Minesweepers, 1953-1994. Heritage Books. ISBN 978-0-7884-3260-6.
  • Bruhn, David D.. (2009). Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The U.S. Navy's Coastal and Motor Minesweepers, 1941-1953. Heritage Books. ISBN 0788449095.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK