Although mines or underwater IEDs can be made in virtually any configuration, there are essentially four primary types:
- Bottom or “ground” mines;
- Buoyant moored mines;
- Drifting mines; and
- Limpet mines (directly attached to the hull of an intended ship target).
They can be laid by aircraft, surface ships, pleasure boats, submarines, combat divers or any craft of opportunity. They are designed for operations from the surf zone to deep water, and their payloads can range from a few kilos to several tons of high explosive.
In general, mines and underwater improvised explosive devices are among many threats to world maritime security interests. Terrorists can use or threaten to use mines with different purposes, either political or economic… and the psychological effects will be for sure the desired one. Only one mine placed surreptitiously in the entrance of a harbor or in a channel can achieve spectacular effects. Imagine a cruise ships with several thousand people on board or the economic impact of the closure of harbors like Antwerp, Zeebrugge or Rotterdam.
While mines might not be the “show-stopper,” they could certainly hamper the navigation in critical waterways, slowing the movement of warships and military sealift in crisis and conflict.
What is a sea mine?
“In naval mine warfare, an explosive device laid in the water with the intention of damaging or sinking ships or of deterring shipping from entering an area”.
The purpose of Minelaying
- Limit/Stop/Canalise enemy maritime movements
- Force the enemy to divert
- Protect own shipping, harbours, SLOC’s (Sea Lines Of Communcation)
- Delay/Stop invading enemy naval forces
- Force the enemy to do MCM
- Demoralise the enemy