Monday, December 17, 2018

LCS MCM - What's The Point?

As we all know, the LCS is, by design and intent, utterly useless without a module.  Of course, the first LCS was commissioned in 2008 and here we are, a decade later, still waiting for any useful modules.  Now, USNI News website reports that the Navy is developing an unmanned surface vessel (Common Unmanned Surface Vessel – CUSV) as the prime ‘carrier’ for the various planned mine countermeasure equipment packages (mine hunting, mine sweeping, mine neutralization).  This is actually somewhat old news – not sure why it’s being reported as new other than the Navy’s constant attempt to spin news.

As a bit of memory refresh, the ASW (anti-submarine warfare) and MCM modules are running neck and neck in terms of the most module program starts, stops, start-overs, revamps, and slipped schedule dates.  The MCM module was originally planned to be a combination of helo-towed equipment and the unmanned underwater (UUV) remote multi-mission vehicle (RMMV).  Unfortunately/unbelievably, no one bothered to see if the helo could actually safely tow the required equipment and, as it turned out, it couldn’t.  Plus, the RMMV was a failure.  So, it was back to the drawing board.  After a few years of floundering around, the latest plan is to use the CUSV to tow sonars and influence sweep gear.

The really interesting point to this is the time frame.  As the article reports,

NAVSEA is set to compete for the MCM USV with an acquisition program that could start as early as 2020. (1)

So, the CUSV acquisition program won’t start until 2020 (or later – everything LCS related seems to slip its schedule!).  Integration and testing will take several more years.  Let’s be generous and say that the MCM module will be ready in 2025.  By then, the first LCS will be 17 years old and staring at retirement (the Navy hasn’t kept any ship class for its full service life in recent times).  More likely, the testing will slip further.

Okay, all of this highlights the abject stupidity and incompetence of the Navy but that’s hardly news at this point, is it?  Is this just another beat up on the LCS and the Navy post?  No, it’s not.  There’s a larger point here.

For sake of continued discussion, let’s assume that the LCS MCM module works perfectly and is fully deployed by 2025.  The question then becomes, so what?

As a reminder, the LCS fleet has been reorganized into two squadrons, one on each coast of the US, and each squadron will consist of four 4-ship divisions with one division each for training so there will be one division of ASW, one of ASuW, and one MCM in each squadron. (2)  Thus, there will be a grand total of 8 MCM-configured LCS ships in the entire US Navy.

The Navy’s entire MCM fleet will be 8 ships.

That bears repeating.

The Navy’s entire MCM fleet will be 8 ships.

Those 8 ships will be replacing the previous 12 Osprey class and 14 Avenger class mine countermeasure ships.  In addition, the Navy’s entire helo-based mine countermeasures inventory, 30 MH-53E Sea Dragons, are old and barely flightworthy and will retire very soon and without replacement.  Thus, the 8 LCS MCM ships will be replacing the Ospreys, Avengers, and MH-53E’s.  So, 8 LCS will replace 26 ships and 30 helos.  Does that sound rational to you?  Do you really believe that 8 LCS are equivalent to 26 ships and 30 helos?

Let’s recall a few salient points related to mine warfare and mine countermeasures. 
  • In WWII, the Normandy (D-Day) invasion used over 250 minesweepers to clear the sea lanes and approaches in a combat-useful time frame.
  • China’s inventory of mines is in the tens or hundreds of thousands.
  • Iran’s inventory of mines is in the tens of thousands.
  • N Korea’s inventory of mines is in the tens or hundreds of thousands.
  • A single LCS can clear a couple of mines per hour.

Ponder the interrelated ramifications of those five related points.

Considering the concept of combat-useful time frames, the size of the mine inventories our enemies have, and the clearance rate of the LCS-MCM, it becomes immediately apparent that we have a mammoth mismatch between needs and capabilities which is only going to get worse as the LCS becomes the only MCM asset in the fleet.

The mine clearing capacity of the entire LCS “fleet” is absolutely dwarfed by the enemy inventories and combat time frame requirements.  There is almost no difference between having the LCS-MCM fleet and not having it at all.  We have atrophied to the point that we may as well have no MCM capability since even with the LCS-MCM fleet we essentially won’t have any for any relevant use.

The conclusion is inescapable.  We need to abandon both the LCS and the LCS MCM concept (modular, remote, unmanned vehicles locating and removing single mines at a time) as an effective mine countermeasures asset and move on to an entirely new concept.  What that concept is, I don’t have a solid idea about.  Certainly, though, it needs to include high speed, high volume mine removal – sweeping – combined with individual mine removal, as needed.  Whether this can be done with small, unmanned craft towing influence sweeps or whether we need dedicated small vessels, as in WWII, is something for the experts in the field to determine.

Oddly, the Navy’s LCS MCM module development has been almost exclusively focused on one-at-a-time mine removal which is useless in a combat scenario.  I’m completely baffled by the thinking behind the effort.  What is needed, as I stated, is high volume, high speed clearance.  From day one of LCS MCM module development, we should have been focused on combat clearance (sweeping), not leisurely one-at-a-time clearance.

We also need to hugely increase our MCM asset numbers.  Mine clearance in a combat-useful time frame requires numbers of assets … large numbers of assets (250 minesweepers at Normandy!). 

We need to produce an immediate replacement for the MH-53 which currently forms the backbone of our MCM effort.

The Navy bet ‘all in’ on the LCS for MCM and crapped out.  We have, essentially, nothing left.  We need to invest heavily and quickly in a multi-faceted and robust MCM force.  As it stands, our vaunted amphibious assault capability can be stopped in its tracks by any country with a handful of mines.  Further, a system of mines laid in the gaps between the various islands of the first island chain can effectively close the E/S China Seas to the US Navy and don’t think that thought hasn’t occurred to China.


Related thought:  Given China’s willingness (eagerness?) to flaunt international treaties, laws, and norms in constructing artificial islands and expanding their territorial claims, it’s only a matter of time until China decides that the negative political repercussions of laying mines between the first island chain waters and truly closing the E/S China Seas to the US is worth it.  We would have no means of conducting large scale clearance operations and would have no choice but to fully concede the E/S China Seas.

Another related thought:  In a war, if China places just a few mines in just a few US harbors, stand back and watch the US Navy convulse in an effort to protect and clear all our harbors with just 8 LCS – leaving none for forward combat operations!


(1)USNI News website, “Navy Developing New Mine Countermeasures USV for Littoral Combat Ships”, Sam LaGrone, 17-Oct-2018,

(2)USNI News website, “Littoral Combat Ship Program Vastly Different a Year Into Major Organizational, Operational Overhaul”, Megan Eckstein, 6-Sep-2017,


  1. "Further, a system of mines laid in the gaps between the various islands of the first island chain can effectively close the E/S China Seas to the US Navy and don’t think that thought hasn’t occurred to China."

    The really trollish thing about this is that China doesn't actually *physically* need to seed the entire waters with mines. By international convention, the party that conducts naval mining must declare where it has located that minefield and the boundaries of such minefield. Nowhere does it state that the declaring party must actually go out and physically mine those waters.

    All China has to do is seed *enough* mines to keep everyone honest, while the USN has to treat those waters as if they were actually mined, and thus conduct slow, careful MCM. It's not like clearing a minefield on land, where you can use mine clearing charges or drop a daisy cutter on said minefield.

    Defense Systems reported last year that the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System achieved IOC, so at least there's a replacement for Sea Dragon in the pipeline, but, on the other hand, minehunting =/= mineclearing. On the other hand, there's no word as yet as to how effective ALMDS actually is, so...

  2. "The Navy’s entire MCM fleet will be 8 ships."

    There should be more as the Navy is procuring 24 MCM mission packages.

    From the Congressional Record Service Report RL33741, "Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress," Dated October 22, 2018, Page 18:

    "The committee notes the Navy program-of-record includes 24 Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mine countermeasures (MCM) mission packages. The committee understands the Navy plans to use nine of these MCM mission packages on vessels of opportunity (VOOs). The committee recognizes that VOOs can provide additional MCM host platform capacity to meet warfighting capability requirements and account for MCM maintenance cycles."

    Not that this makes much of a difference if the ships are homeported on the East and West coasts. And, just as with ships and aircraft, this doesn't mean that all 24 MCM packages would be available all the time. Some could be unavailable due to a lack of spare parts, a backlog in maintenance, software issues, etc. The same would apply to the other mission packages.

    1. This is another claim that looks good in a PowerPoint presentation but has no real validity. During a war, there won't be any 'vessels of opportunity'. Any useful vessel will be busy doing whatever it is that it is intended to do. We won't have any ships sitting around waiting for something to do.

    2. " Navy program-of-record includes 24 Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mine countermeasures (MCM) mission packages."

      How many Zumwalts did the Zumwalt program of record call for? How many LCS did the program of record call for? I could list these endlessly but you get the point. Just because a program calls for a given quantity doesn't mean we'll procure them. In fact, history strongly (nearly 100%) suggests we won't. Sooner or later, someone is going to go looking for money to pay for the latest shiny new toy and MCM packages that don't have a ship to take them will be low hanging fruit to cut!

    3. Once we start building frigates there won't be any motivation to improve the LCS.

    4. Per the 2018 Annual Report to Congress for the Littoral Combat Ship Mission Modules Program, the revised quantities of deployable Mission Packages for the LCS Mission Modules Program of Record (PoR) are 10 SUW MPs, 10 ASW MPs, and 24 MCM MPs, for a total of 44 deployable MPs. And, given that Austal was just awarded a contract for LCS 36 and 38 (according to Naval Recognition), I can't imagine significant changes to those numbers.

  3. The point was to fig leaf a mission no one in the Surface Navy wants to actually perform and spend as little money as possible doing so.

  4. Its the Army's standard tactic when dealing with land based mines/minefields, is to blow in place (BIP). I'm coming at this MCM with the impression that's how the navy dose it as well. CNO, please correct me if my assumption is false.

    1. I'm not a land expert so I'm unfamiliar with BIP. I assume it means detonating mines where they're found? I know the Army uses line charges sometimes to clear paths through minefields. Again, I assume that's a BIP procedure?

      In any event, naval mine clearance is generally conducted in place. There are two general approaches.

      1. Individual mines are identified (the LCS approach) and a destructive charge, in some form, is applied to the mine or suicided by a sacrificial UUV. This method is very slow but thorough.

      2. Areas are swept by influence gear which triggers the mines into exploding. This method is fast but can miss a lot. Modern mines are less and less susceptible to influence sweeping.

    2. BIP is a risk management issue.
      You can rapidly breach enenmy defences and advance with minimal risk.
      Minefields would still need to be cleared later though.

      As far as I am aware there is no area clearance explosive, the only anti mine system in use is a targeted system.

    3. @Domo, correct. The closet thing to area clearance is the MICLIC, and that has a limited depth and width coverage. An extensive land mine field can easily eat up a combat brigade's engineer units MICLIC capability.

      @CNO, the "BIP" term is usually used for select, usually placed by personal, of a localized charge sufficient to detonate the suspected mine/IED where its found. It mostly consists of a single block of C4 placed to direct the secondary explosion (mine's) caused by the primary (C4 charge's) away from military or non-military infrastructure/ personal.

    4. I've encountered occasional Navy discussions about using bombs to effect area mine clearance in the surf zone. To the best of my knowledge, nothing has ever been formalized.

      I recall past discussions about fuel-air bombs for use in land area mine clearance but, again, I have no idea whether that's a formal system or not?

    5. The issue with airdropping bombs, particularly fuel air, is that the effect isn't uniform. The blast can't consistently detonate land mines when they're sub surface due to micro terrain variations or soil hardness . A MICLIC charge localizes the explosion in such away as to either to detonate or toss the landmines out the desired path. Even the MICLIC requires a plow to "proof" the path cause it isn't 100% effective nor dose it cover a path much larger then the vehicles intend to use it, despite being nearly 2 tons of C4.

      I've read and heard of anecdotal use of air-dropped napalm to clear mine fields during Vietnam. The temperature from napalm generates the heat, and the associated pressure cause by the heat, to detonate subsurface mines, theoretically. In reality, while it was somewhat successful, it also had a tendency to cause mines on the outskirts of the burn path to become violate, making later removal extremely hazardous. I assume it wasn't a widely used practice due to that reason.

      That being said, one of the most effective mine removal systems ever employed, was the mine flail. I wonder if a conceptual similar system can even be uses in a naval setting, maybe front mounted net... what do you think of that?

  5. If they were serious about the MCM mission they would divide up the LCS class properly and turn the Independence class into a dedicated MCM boat. With its huge deck and hanger it can accommodate a CH-53, and with the K's going operational shortly it should be relatively easy to adapt them for the old MH-53 role. They also desperately need more orders to bring the ridiculous unit cost down, so it might even be a win/win.

    1. Actually, the unconfirmed reports I've gotten say that the Ind class can't operate a CH-53 size/weight helo due to structural limitations of the flight deck that were instituted as cost saving measures during development.

      I've heard this from engineers in the program but been unable to independently confirm it.

    2. It would make sense that they would ham-string the main benefit of the Independence's trimaran hull. They ruined everything else during the LCS development.

    3. Looking around on internet, not a ton of info, looks like Independence can or once thought could operate 2 SH60s or a SH53 but recent info seem to suggest only 1 SH60. The volume and space is probably there but weight limits and structures probably preclude it.

  6. Even if we buy 24 MCM modules, all the LCSs work and get deployed at the same (highly unlikely), we are still talking 12 mine hunters per coast. I'm not even sure that's enough to keep 1 port open on each coast, forget other US ports or overseas USN used ports or areas of operation.....

  7. Here's what I'd like to do. Build a bunch of sound a magnetic signature generators to mimic current ships. Encase in 50 ton ice hull. Tow with SSC (Surface to Surface Connector). I believe as a solid hull should be able to take multiple near missed and even several direct hits. Generators should be able to float independently and be shut on/off remotely. After hull sinks, mount generators on new hull. You will need a ship set up to create the hulls but the refridgeration machinery should be containerized. Freeze, crane over side, tow.

    Randall Rapp

    1. Well, other than the ice hull, you've just described influence sweeping.

  8. The Navy seems to have recognized the shortcomings of the LCS and is planning a "tool box" of MCM sensors and equipment that can be tailored to different ships. It sounds like the Navy is taking a "distributed lethality" approach to MCM. Good luck with that.

    USNI: Navy Thinking Beyond Littoral Combat Ship for Future Mine Warfare

    In my opinion, a platform that can support the MH-53 is lacking. Instead of an ASW carrier as CNO proposes, we go should with something a little bigger that could also support a detachment of 4-6 MH-53s.

    1. Yes, we've discussed an MCM mothership several times and it makes a great deal of sense. The mothership would host a squadron of SMALL, DEDICATED MCM vessels (think updated Avengers but not the LCS) plus a direct MH-53E helo replacement.

      The AFSB was, once upon a time, supposed to be an MCM mothership but the Navy seems to have abandoned any formal attempt at that. Baffling.

  9. From what I've read, the AFSB and similar ships are being directed towards supporting special operations.

    1. That's one of the options, maybe even a 'leaning'. I did a post on this a bit ago about how the Navy built the AFSB without, apparently, any CONOPS or even a commitment about how to use it. 'Build it and we'll figure out what to do with it later', in essence.

      Of course, spec ops are nearly useless in high end combat (witness Desert Storm) whereas MCM will be invaluable so, naturally, the Navy would opt to make the AFSB a spec ops vessel!

    2. "Of course, spec ops are nearly useless in high end combat (witness Desert Storm) whereas MCM will be invaluable so, naturally, the Navy would opt to make the AFSB a spec ops vessel!"

      You can sort of see the thinking the Navy is following, in that there hasn't been any high end combat since Desert Storm. Military planning in the US seems to be of two minds; on one hand, on the other hand the Pentagon talks up the need to do high intensity warfare, but then there seems to be a lot of planning for COIN and low intensity conflict. DOD can't seem to decide which aspect it wants to focus on. Not helping is how the current generation of field-grade officers started out as JOs doing COIN, which is going to lead to certain biases in the officer corps...

      There are times when I wonder if the USN's warplanning for a fight in the Far East assumes that it can get Japan on its side, and thus outsource MCM to the JMSDF. *shrug* Seems a little... short-sighted, to me.

    3. "Of course, spec ops are nearly useless in high end combat (witness Desert Storm) whereas MCM will be invaluable so, naturally, the Navy would opt to make the AFSB a spec ops vessel!"

      To be fair, special operations forces were sent into Iraq and Kuwait for reconnaissance long before the actual ground fighting took place. A role they would have in the next high end conflict. And, their successful SCUD hunts prevented Israel from joining the battle which would have broken up the coalition.

    4. "To be fair, special operations forces were sent into Iraq and Kuwait for reconnaissance "

      SOF were sent in under extreme reluctance by Gen. Schwarzkopf as a interservice politics sop. He was dead set against them. There is no evidence that SOF accomplished anything and in a few instances had to be rescued thereby endangering both personnel and operational security. According to every document I've read, they accomplished nothing of value.

      I have never heard of SOF accomplishing anything related to the SCUD hunts. Please provide a reference.

      I believe this comment is completely incorrect so please provide some references to back it up.

    5. Washington Post, "Dozens of small U.S. "special forces" military units conducted reconnaissance and rescue missions behind Iraqi lines and sabotaged or destroyed Iraqi military equipment both before and after the start of the Persian Gulf War, according to U.S. officials."

      Washington Post, "Beyond helping destroy Scuds, the teams mined various Iraqi bridges, found and destroyed some mobile communications centers and deliberately contaminated some Iraqi aircraft fuel, in missions described without elaboration by Schwarzkopf as "direct action," other officials said."

      Washington Post, "Schwarzkopf also said that "with every single Arab unit that went into battle, we had special-forces troops . . . {whose job} was to travel and live right down at the battalion level," translating commands from headquarters in Riyadh and helping to call in supporting helicopter and aircraft strikes."


      Newsweek, "Army Special Forces teams slipped into Iraq before the ground war to act as human tripwires, warning Schwarzkopf's commanders every time Saddam's Republican Guard moved."

      Newsweek, "A top-secret team from Delta Force, America's elite counterterrorist unit, played an instrumental role in tracking down and destroying Scud missiles aimed at Israel. On the last day of the war, Delta Force helped wipe out 26 Scuds that Saddam was preparing to launch at Israel in a last-ditch attempt to drag the Israelis into the war."

      Newsweek: Secret Warriors

      I trust this helps.

  10. The Navy needs adult leaders:

    1) SLEP the remaining MCM ships until a future plan is devised. Give them new engines and whatever to extend them another 25 years cause that's all we got for now.

    2) Tell the Marines to rejoin the Navy and provide a squadron of CH-53Ks for MCM missions based at Norfolk, cause the Navy don't give a damn about clearing mines for Marine Corps missions and will not fund a MH-53 replacement, which are a decade overdue for retirement.

    It's crazy to send a $100 million CH-53K on combat missions. These are for special logistics missions that require extra heavy lift, or very long range, or MCM. The H-60s lack the needed endurance. The Marines are not going to do any big amphib ops until mines are cleared anyway. And rotating Marine aircrews thru Norfolk will result in half of Marine H-53K aircrews with experience in supporting Navy MCM.

  11. As if to emphasize this post, I just read an online article in Seapower about the investigation of the wreck of the cruiser USS San Diego sunk in July of 1918. They determined it was sunk by a German mine of the coast of Long Island. Off the coast of Long Island New York.

    HHmmm....maybe we can get Amazon to pay for some minesweepers to keep open the ports there since that’s where their new HQ is going.

    Facetiousness aside, there are small US yards working with GRP and other non-metallic hulls who would do fine with building the equivalent of the Osprey class coastal mine hunters. They were under a 1000 tons. If we are too foolish to invest in blue ocean minesweeping, at the least we should be able to produce defensive capabilities at relatively low cost. Perhaps even used a mixed USCG/USN crews with the MHC’s used as cutters normally but with a USNR minesweeping crew when needed.

  12. What I can't understand is why the USN got rid of the Osprey class ships - or was allowed too. They were struck at 14 years for the oldest. They still float for other navies. The Italian ships that form the basis the Osprey are still all in service. 8 Gaeta and 4 Lerici (2 in reserve). Hell the Italians are upgrading the Gaetas. The cost of an upgraded Gaeta is still less then half of an LCS with mission stuff added.

    Oh wait I forgot the Osprey requires more crew than an LCS - can't have that even if it costs a functioning ship.

  13. Considering the number of mines some of our potential adversaries have, I wondered now well equipped they are at counter mine warfare.

    China has about 30 MCM ships (per Wiki, some numbers are estimates), most of which were built in the last 15 years. Russia has about 48 MCM ships, many of which were built during the Cold War. Not sure how many minesweepers or MCM helicopters each navy has. Bit, given their small numbers of MCM ships, they seem about unprepared as we are at counter mine warfare.

    1. "given their small numbers of MCM ships, they seem about unprepared as we are at counter mine warfare."

      Please analyze that statement and back it up with some numbers and logic. For example, given the very small inventory of mines and even more limited means of laying mines that the US has, China likely has only a fraction of the need for MCM.

      Please revisit and re-examine your statement.

    2. Good question, how many mines does the US have inventory? I'll have to Google that....

    3. I've had little luck in ascertaining actual inventory numbers other than to observe that the numbers are very small.

      As you know, the US doesn't really have any dedicated, purpose built mines. Instead, it uses general purpose bombs with add-on triggering devices to make them "mines". Thus, the US mine inventory is actually the inventory of trigger devices.

      One source says that about 3300 trigger devices (Mk 70/71 TDD) were purchased in the 1980's. I can find no record of more recent TDD purchases.

      The only other type of mine is the sub-launched SLMM which was deactivated at one point and may or may not currently be in service - reports vary. The SLMM was a coverted, older torpedo which had very limited quantities so even if the SLMM is still active there can't be many of them.

      It appears, then, that the total naval mine inventory is around a few thousand. This also assumes sufficient inventories of general purpose bombs to mate with the TDDs.

    4. Best I could find was probably less than 10000 for USN, mostly old stuff developed in the 70s and 80s, all the new stuff is still in development and years away. If US has 10K mines and China has 100k mines, not too hard to see who's going to have a bigger problem getting rid of them.....

    5. I wasn't able to figure what our mine inventory was either. But, I came upon a Tyler Rogoway article that is worth sharing. We've been testing Quickstrike mines fitted with JDAM-ER kits that would allow an aircraft to precisely deliver a mine from up to 40 miles away.

      From the article, "You can also imagine how this same capability could be paired with low-observable combat aircraft—namely the B-2 Spirit and upcoming B-21 Raider—to mine very high-value littoral waterways deep in enemy territory. 40 plus miles is a good margin for very stealthy aircraft even in highly defended airspace, but when you consider that the B-21 is likely to operate at altitudes well in excess of 50,000 feet, Quickstrike-ER's range would increase quite significantly."

      The Warzone: B-52 Tested 2,000lb Quickstrike-ER Winged Standoff Naval Mines During Valiant Shield

    6. "Quickstrike mines fitted with JDAM-ER kits that would allow an aircraft to precisely deliver a mine from up to 40 miles away. "

      Yeah, that's a pretty marginal capability. To mine Chinese harbors still requires penetrating a thousand mile A2/AD zone to get within 40 miles. If our B-2s are capable of that then we're in really great shape. I don't believe that any stealth aircraft can do that. Stealth isn't magic. The aircraft would be flying through, past, and over dozens/hundreds of radars, IRSTs, EO sensors, and eyeballs. I just don't see it happening.

  14. While this would only work in enemy waters... perhaps a cruise missile based bomb-let similar to hedgehogs that would fly over a mined area at sea skimming height and drop hundreds of bomb-lets into the sea. The bomb-lets would detonate upon hitting the ocean floor or mine and might also disrupt a seafloor sonar system. This would take many, many missiles. It would be a quick way to clear the majority of mines, whether they are suspended in the water column or floor based. Our limited MCM could precede the surface fleet if time permitted.

    The new LRHAShM is partly stealthy, making it more likely to get in between islands and I'm sure that a sub sonic delivery will be required.

    I'm not suggesting this as a general purpose system, just an expedient way to quickly neutralize a corridor for US ship transit.

    1. "I'm not suggesting this as a general purpose system, just an expedient way to quickly neutralize a corridor for US ship transit."

      You bring up a key point. During combat, all that is needed is cleared lanes for transit - transit of landing craft to the beach, transit of ships through chokepoints, etc. Yes, after the war the mines will have to be entirely cleared but for the immediate combat needs, a lane is all that is necessary.

      Of course, a land is still a very large area. For example, to allow a carrier to pass, you'd want a lane at least a half mile to a mile wide, I'd think. You wouldn't want to risk a carrier because you missed a mine at the edge of a too narrow lane.

      The mechanism of clearance for that lane can be anything - probably a combination of sweeping and unmanned searching/clearing.

  15. I can see one way in which the LCS MCM program makes sense. It allows the USN to claim that it has spent more on MCM than any other navy. That's probably even true, but they have got very for the money.

  16. "Yeah, that's a pretty marginal capability."

    Grim reading on mine warfare and USN

    Its seems almost beyond belief that USN has nothing but a 'handful' of obsolete mines to be used by subs. Why spend billions of dollars for the premiere stealth platform at sea and than fail to have a full tool kit of weapons for US SSNs?

  17. Nice about mine clearing assets. You have to understand mine clearing is not "sexy" and so few have sufficient grasp of actual historic mine warfare it is beyond imagination to need any, and there fore buy or develop or seriously train for it.

    your comments on possible clearing rate and how many mines an enemy has , exponentially understates how serious the problem is , since dummy mines have to be treated as real mines , so even if an enemy puts out 20 mines , if they mix them with 5000 dummy mines , the effect is there are 5020 mines which have to be cleared, so the needed assets are that much. Perhaps somebody up in the Navy has realized how hopeless it all is, if an enemy bother to use dummy mines , so the result is really 'why bother at all?" Perhaps they are right by default and ignorance , rather than by just not wanting to be associated with an area of warfare that aint sexy, and few have a clue of what a serious strategic problem it could be.

    1. Given actual enemy inventories of hundreds of thousands of mines, I'm not sure dummies are needed but your point is valid and just makes a very bad situation all that much more difficult!

      "Perhaps they are right by default and ignorance "

      No, they aren't. The Chinese will, undoubtedly, mine the passages between the first island chain islands and unless we just concede the issue we'll eventually have to enter the area which means clearing mines. Navy leadership can ignore it all they want but they will have no choice but to face the issue in war.

    2. Thanks for the reply CNO.

      What I was getting at about "dummy" mines is their potential to be used by not only powers with thousands of "real' mines, but the fact that any coastal entity/state could use something like 55gal drums as dummy "drift" horned mines or as fake moored mines , mix in a very few real mines (crude effective mines made out of 55 gal drums or similar larger containers as well) that could cause real problems in channelized area, or releases of drift mines along major currents which have sea lanes in them. Tack some basic anti-handling devices on some of the dummy's makes clearing that much harder and time consuming out side the BIP method(blow in place). i am just thinking some small power or larger power put out say 20 real ones add 200 dummies,off a couple boats or release from a dock rinse repeat , at whatever internal to just totally exhaust and overwhelm a force with limited mine clearing assets.

      It is mot some much making "minefields" , but even a few real mines with many times their number in dummies has to be swept or screened from . No large navy, with super expensive ship or super-tankers/LNG carrier(or their underwriters) would dare go into areas or sail channels/lanes with even a "sparse" mine presence, and sparse among a field of dummy mines still counts as real mines.
      Mines are a weapon of choice/ necessity of an inferior/non-existent naval power. The Southern States in the Civil War/Turkey WWII. Defensive examples of few mines used to great effect. I would say the use of mines both both Russia and Japan were more of a use of "offensive/defensive' mine warfare, caused heavy losses both sides. All these examples few mines involved. I just don't think in takes many mines to be effective and dummy mines would overwhelm mine clearing assets.

      Know i may sound fuzzy, but mostly what I think of is the USA fighting a nation with coastline , how those nations might use mines(offensively) against our navy or merchant marine , since they would have no chance fighting a conventional naval battle. China and Russia or course have regular navies and lots of mines already and plans to use them I am sure , but I am thinking weaker powers that might become involved using mine-warfare tactics-Iran, Unstable African coast nations/ Terrorist faction takeovers. we have been fighting basically 'land-locked ' enemies, What happen if we fight a coastal enemies who decides to use "drift mine" tactics instead of suicide boats? , And we have such limited mine-warfare assets?

      Just food for thought , for why we really need to be ready for even this un-sexy, long forgotten aspect of naval warfare and have more assets for it.

      I look at it , as all Iran has to do Persian Gulf , and "boom' alot of people are going to be concerned about mine warfare, and I suppose we will find out if what we have works. and how long depends on how many assets we can put there.

      Regards, sorry for rambling


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