In the West, we often look at mines as a clearance issue rather than as an offensive capability. Yet that capability remains and COMSUBPAC has announced the completion of a submarine-launched mine exercise in the Hawaiian Operating Area.
Pacific Submarine Force Successfully Completes SLMM-Ex
COMSUBPAC Public Affairs
Release Date: 10/9/2013
(PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii) – The U.S. Navy’s Pacific Submarine Force recently honed its operational proficiency during a Submarine-Launched Mobile Mine Exercise (SLMM-Ex) conducted this week off the coast of Kauai at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF).
SLMM-Ex was designed to demonstrate the capability of a Los Angeles-class submarine to successfully launch Mk-67 SLMMs used specifically for destroying and/or disrupting enemy ships. The MK-67 SLMM was developed as a submarine-deployed mine for use in areas inaccessible for other mine deployment techniques or for covert mining of hostile environments.
This end-to-end demonstration began with the training of a Los Angeles-class submarine crew to handle and launch Mk 67 SLMMs. The training included SLMM weapons handling and certification using training shapes and walk-through events, including a simulated launch. The exercise culminated in the actual launch of inert Mk 67 SLMM exercise mines off PMRF. Divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) ONE, successfully recovered the exercise mines.
“Conducting exercises like these ensures the operational readiness of the submarine force,” said Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer, Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “It further ensures that our submarines stand ready to provide critical access to the world’s ocean trade routes, provide credible defense against any hostile maritime forces, and project power from the sea to the shore when needed.”
The Mk-67 SLMM is a submarine-launched mine in service with the U.S. Navy that consists of a Mk 37 torpedo body with a modified warhead and trigger. The main advantage of the weapon is that the submarine does not have to pass over the area where the mine is to be laid; it is launched as a torpedo and swims to the lay spot.
The Hawaiian Operating Area and training ranges provide Sailors an immensely valuable opportunity to practice and perfect their skills. Nowhere else in the world provides a more realistic, relevant training opportunity. That said, the U.S. Navy takes pride in its environmental stewardship and employs appropriate protective measures in accordance with its permits from the National Marine Fisheries Service and with the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act. In addition, approved procedures are in place to minimize the potential impact on marine life in the waters in which exercises are conducted.
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Here is a link to a Royal Navy training film from 1976 on minelaying. https://navalmatters.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/minelaying-1976/