D-Day: Sweeping Ahead of the Destroyers, Early Morning, 6 June 1944

Minesweepers clearing approaches to the invasion beaches ahead of D-Day, 6th June 1944. Oil on canvas by Norman Wilkinson in collection of National Maritime Museum.

Wilkinson, Norman, 1878-1971; D-Day: Sweeping Ahead of the Destroyers, Early Morning, 6 June 1944

US Navy conducts submarine-launched mine exercise in Pacific

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.


SNMCMG1 visits St Petersburg

Six NATO mine warfare vessels from Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 are visiting St Petersburg, Russia this weekend. Ships involved include:

A formal visit to the Russian Baltic Fleet will be followed, of course, by a football tournament.

Корабли постоянной минно-тральной группы НАТО прибыли в Петербург

Как сообщили в ЗВО, в четверг в Петербург зашли четыре корабля – “X.X. Черницки” (Польша), “Адмирал Кован” (Эстония), “Диллинген” (Германия) и “Раума” (Норвегия). В субботу состав кораблей несколько изменится – в северную столицу войдут бельгийский “Нарцис” и нидерландский “Маккум”, они заменят корабли Норвегии и Германии.

© РИА Новости. Игорь Руссак

С.-ПЕТЕРБУРГ, 10 окт — РИА Новости. Корабли постоянной минно-тральной группы НАТО прибыли в Санкт-Петербург, в субботу их палубы будут открыты для посещения всех желающих, сообщает в четверг пресс-служба Западного военного округа (ЗВО).

“В 10.00 мск корабли НАТО ошвартовались у причалов набережной Лейтенанта Шмидта. По традиции рядом с иностранными боевыми кораблями занял место так называемый корабль-хозяин — однотипный с ними базовый тральщик Балтийского флота “БТ-212”, — говорится в сообщении.

Как пояснил представитель ЗВО, в четверг в порт Петербурга зашли четыре корабля — “X.X. Черницки” (Польша), “Адмирал Кован” (Эстония), “Диллинген” (Германия), и “Раума” (Норвегия). В субботу состав кораблей несколько изменится — в северную столицу войдут бельгийский “Нарцис” и нидерландский “Маккум”, они заменят корабли Норвегии и Германии. “Было принято решение о единовременном приходе в порт Петербурга четырех кораблей. В любом случае все они посетят Петербург”, — сказал собеседник агентства.

© РИА Новости. Игорь Руссак

В ходе неофициального визита в северную столицу России, командиры кораблей совершат протокольный визит к командиру Ленинградской военно-морской базы Балтийского флота, который примет иностранных командиров на борту корабля №1 ВМФ РФ крейсере “Аврора”. Также в программе пребывания возложение экипажами зарубежных кораблей венков и цветов на мемориальном Пискаревском кладбище.

“Кроме того, военным морякам предстоит принять участие в “спортивной баталии”. 11 октября между сборной ВМС НАТО и сборной Балтийского флота состоится товарищеский футбольный матч”, — уточняет ЗВО.

За последние годы это первый визит постоянной минно-тральной группы НАТО в Петербург. Ранее моряки минно-тральной группы НАТО становилось гостями моряков-балтийцев в столице Балтийского флота — Калининграде. Визит кораблей НАТО в Санкт-Петербург завершится 14 октября.


‘Minesweepers under Attack, Thames Estuary, October 1940’

‘Minesweepers under Attack, Thames Estuary, October 1940’ by John Alan Hamilton. Painting in collection of Imperial War Museum.

VIDEO: The Call of Blue Water – CNO SITREP 12 (1976)

Department of Defense PIN 34761.

Royal Navy clearance divers dispose of WW2 mine

Still dredging them up after 70-years, still disposing of them safely. BZ to the Southern Diving Group. There’s expertise that can’t be put out to Chinese contract!

World War Two mine destroyed past Plymouth Breakwater

A WORLD War Two mine has been destroyed after being found by a fishing vessel.

A Royal Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team disposed of the mine in a controlled explosion south of Plymouth Breakwater.

World War Two mine destroyed past Plymouth Breakwater

The explosion took place at 11am today, and Royal Navy EOD divers conducted a survey to establish the success of the operation.

A 1000m cordon was established for the destruction of the mine, which had been recovered by a fishing vessel near Eddystone Light.

If you saw the controlled explosion from the Sound or Plymouth Hoe send your pictures to news@theplymouthherald.co.uk


USS Ponce escapes mothball fleet to fulfill new rôle in the Persian Gulf

The USS Ponce, until 2011 one of the oldest LPDs in commission with the US Navy, escaped a trip to the mothball fleet by finding a new role as the USN’s Afloat Forward Staging Base, Interim (AFSB-I) supporting mine countermeasures vessels and helicopters in the Persian Gulf.

USS Ponce stays afloat in unique role as forward staging base

Helicopters sit on the deck of the USS Ponce during a large-scale international mine countermeasures exercise May 20 in the Persian Gulf. The Ponce was reclassified from an amphibious landing transport dock to an interim afloat forward staging base for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Hendrick Simoes/Stars and Stripes

MANAMA, Bahrain — When the USS Ponce returned to Norfolk in December 2011 with its 360 crewmembers and thousands of additional shipmates — roaches that had inhabited the vessel — it was supposed to be its final deployment.

After its “victory lap,” it was scheduled to decommission in March 2012. But the U.S. Navy decided the race wasn’t quite yet over for the 41-year old ship.

The Ponce, nicknamed the Proud Lion, was reclassified from an amphibious landing transport dock to an interim afloat forward staging base for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, and it arrived at its new Bahrain homeport in July 2012.

It was a first for the Navy, whose officials described it as an experiment, partially inspired in part by the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk’s role as an afloat special operations staging base during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001.

For the first time, the Navy has such a platform permanently based in the 5th fleet theater and capable of doing a variety of missions — including humanitarian relief or special operations — utilizing the ship’s flight deck, well deck and immense storage capacity.

Another experimental aspect was that in its new role the ship would essentially be manned by a crew of civilian mariners from the Military Sealift Command integrated with U.S. Navy sailors. It currently has about 220 crewmembers — 165 civilians and 55 servicemembers.

“It keeps you on your toes,” said Capt. Jon Rodgers, commander of the USS Ponce. “I’ve touted two cultures, one crew.”

Walking aboard the ship, it’s common to see civilians with beards, long hair, and men with earrings — all things that would be considered to be contrary to good order and military discipline on a regular U.S. Navy ship.

Still, the biggest challenge for the Proud Lion in past year has been physically converting the ship to an afloat staging base. Since the ship was expected to have been decommissioned, it was in severe disrepair and much of the task of retrofitting and modernizing it fell to the crew, who did so even as the ship transited from Norfolk to the Middle East June last year.

“The ship was pretty broken,” said Christopher Semmler, an engineer on the Ponce, adding that all the maintenance work has given him good experience to put on his resume.

The bridge, pilot house, combat information center and many more compartments were completely overhauled. The crew also installed some new compartments such as a shipboard ER complete with an operating room designed by Navy surgeons. And the work continues, especially in engineering where temperatures below regularly exceed 130 degrees in the Gulf.

“We are constantly dealing with breakdowns, overhauls and fixes,” said Steven Wojtasinski, an engineer. Since the Ponce was built in the late 1960s, the engineering equipment “brings you back in time a little bit,” he added.

But the underlying problem of how much money should the Navy put into a vessel considered an interim solution, remains unresolved.

On July 10, 2013, the Ponce celebrated its 42nd birthday, and there is much uncertainty about how many more birthdays it will have. Rodgers said he believed it will remain in service at least until 2016 when it may possibly be relieved by a newer vessel.

Since the ship’s arrival in the 5th Fleet, it has played a key command and control role as the centerpiece in two 5th Fleet led, large-scale international maritime security exercises in the Persian Gulf.

“It is an experiment, and I think it’s been a successful one,” said Rodgers, who claims the vessel has 10 more years of life in her.

But, he admits he has a bias.

“She is a wise old ship, and if the nation needed her to go further I’m sure she can do it.”


Australian minehunter to clear up US bombs dumped near Great Barrier Reef

An update to the PR disaster that resulted from USMC aircraft dropping of inert/unarmed ordnance near the Great Barrier Reef.

These will be removed by a mine hunter… possibly one tasked from the US 7th Fleet… assuming Congress doesn’t force their decommissioning… or one tasked by the Royal Australian Navy.

Report: Mine Hunter to Recover U.S. Bombs Dropped Near Great Barrier Reef

HMAS Diamantina sails into Rabaul Harbour in Papua New Guinea in 2011. Royal Australian Navy Photo

A mine hunting ship will be deployed to find four bombs dropped by two U.S. Marine AV-8B Harriers last week in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia, according to local press reports published on Tuesday.

The vessel would either come from U.S. 7th Fleet’s homeport in Japan or Australia’s Fleet Base East in Sydney, according to the report.

It is unclear is the mine ship will be a U.S. Navy Avenger class mine countermeasure ship or an Australian vessel.

Navy officials at the Pentagon did not have any additional details on the operation and could not confirm the report from the Perth Now news service.

“Dive teams have been sent to the area to try and locate the weapons, but Navy sources said it would require specialist underwater detection equipment to identify the bombs,” reported Perth Now.

The mine sweeper to find the two BDU-45 practice bombs and two unarmed GBU-12 Paveway II bombs.

“The Harriers had intended to drop the ordnance in Townshend Island Range but controllers reported the area was not clear of hazards. Due to low fuel and inability to land with the amount of ordnance they were carrying, the on scene commander determined it was necessary to designate an emergency jettison area for the ordnance,” according to a statement from U.S. 7th Fleet issued on July 20.

“The selected emergency jettison area was in a deep channel away from the reef to minimize the possibility of reef damage,” according to a statement from U.S.

“It is approximately 50 to 60 meters deep and does not pose a hazard to shipping or navigation.”

The Harriers were flying in support of the Talisman Saber 2013, a joint exercise conducted between the U.S. and Australia.


Kazakhstan purchases Russian Lida-class minesweepers for Caspian Sea

The Lida-class (Project 10750E) inshore minesweeper entered service with the Soviet Navy in 1989 and is equipped with acoustic and electromagnetic sweeps. Defensive armament includes the AK-630 close-in-weapon-systsem (similar concept to Phalanx or Goalkeeper).

Kazakhstan to buy two mine ‘hunters’ from Russia

Minesweeper (10750E project). Photo courtesy of snsz-ru.all.biz

Kazakhstan mulls buying two 10750E harbor minesweepers from Russia to use them at the Caspian Sea, Interfax-Kazakhstan reports citing deputy Director General on military-technical cooperation of Sredne-Nevskiy shipyard Aleksander Vlassov.

“Our plant has signed a contract with Kazakhstan for supplies of 10750E harbor minesweepers. The model has fundamental differences from the ships of 10750 Sapfir project built in the 1980s. The last of them was supplied to the Navy in 1996. Several such ships are still used in the Baltic and the Black Sea Navy,” Aleksander Vlassov told the journalists at the 6th International Naval Salon in Saint-Petersburg.

The ships supplied to Kazakhstan will be “very much different from those built for the Soviet and Russian Navy, especially in terms of equipment: most of it has been imported. The ships will be equipped German-made main energy block upon Kazakhstan’s request. The hydro-acoustic equipment will be French. It is aimed for mine intelligence and minesweeping,” he said.

“That means that the once minesweeper has been turned into a mine hunter: it will search for and detect mines using autonomous underwater units, while elimination of the mines it finds will be performed remotely from the shipboard,” he said.

“The ship will also perform traditional sweeping functions with the use of Russian made drags,” Vlassov added. Answering a question on the number of the mine hunters ordered by Kazakhstan, he said: “One, and there is a memorandum for the second one.”