Images shared by the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet show the Los Angeles USS-class attack submarine Montpellier conduct exercises with a Mk 67 Submarine Launched Mobile Mines, or SLMM, dummy while deployed in the Mediterranean Sea. Submarine-launched mines, such as the Mk 67, and other anti-submarine weapons have seen some kind of resurgence in recent years as naval competition between the major powers continues to intensify in the region and in the world.
While we don’t know if Montpellier Left of the harbor with the dummy mines to conduct exercises, the footage appears to be the way the Navy shows deployed submarines can report to bases in the region and load mines if necessary.
The USS SLMM “loaded expeditionary navigation” exercises Montpellier took place last week in Souda Bay, Greece. Images shared by the U.S. Sixth Fleet show Sailors loading the 13-foot, 1,765-pound torpedo-shaped mine into the Montpellier ”s torpedo room when docked
Souda Bay is home to several military installations including the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Center (NMIOTC). According to its website, NMIOTC’s mission statement is “To conduct the combined training necessary for NATO forces and partners to better execute surface, submarine, aerial surveillance and special operations activities in the United States.” support for maritime interdiction operations (MIO). In addition, the US Navy operates Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay, a 110-acre facility at the northern end of a peninsula that also includes the Hellenic Navy’s Crete Naval Base and the Hellenic Air Force Base. Souda of the Hellenic Air Force.
The Mk 67 SLMM was first deployed in 1983 and is the only submarine-launched mine currently in service with the US Navy. The mines are up to 600 feet deep and carry a 330 pound explosive charge triggered by a magnetic / seismic / pressure target detection device.
SLMMs are electrically powered modified Mk 37 torpedoes and can therefore be deployed clandestinely in a no-go area, such as a port or shipping lane within hostile territory, from a position of security. The exact range of the SLMMs is unclear, but different versions of the Mk 37 had maximum ranges of several thousand meters, depending on their set speed.
In general, even non-motorized submarine-launched mines inherently have the ability to be deployed in a way that greatly reduces the chances of the enemy being aware of it compared to air-launched varieties. Deploying mines from surface ships or airplanes is much easier to detect, and it is more difficult for these platforms to plant mines in no-go areas than it is for submarines.
Yet in recent years, the Navy has pursued several types of new mines, including two air-dropped versions of the Quickstrike family of mines that offer revolutionary capabilities such as the ability to be dropped from any altitude and d ‘be launched from top to bottom. 40 miles away. Thanks to their precise guidance, very complex minefields can be laid, even upstream of rivers, from safe distances.
The Navy is also developing another air-dropped mine called Hammerhead to replace the Mk 60 encapsulated torpedo which is destined to wait months after deployment. The Clandestine Delivered Mine (CDM), an obscure system believed to be in the prototype phase and intended for deployment on board large unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), reportedly completed testing last year.
The development of these new anti-submarine capabilities coincides with the expansion of submarine threats from potential ‘great power’ adversaries such as Russia and China, with smaller nations also increasingly capable of resisting. ” harness effective naval power through submarine assets. It is possible that the Sixth Fleet’s recent high-profile exercises with the Mk 67 SLMM were intended to remind opposing submarine forces in the region of this capability.
The U.S. Sixth Fleet, which operates in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa, has increasingly been tasked with projecting power into the eastern Mediterranean to counteract Russian build-up in and around Syria. “We watch them [the Russians] very, very closely, âsaid U.S. Navy Rear Admiral William Houston in 2019 when he was Deputy Commander of the Sixth Fleet. “There really isn’t a day we don’t watch them, every day.” In response to this increase in Russian submarine activity in the Mediterranean, as well as similar increases in the Atlantic and Arctic regions, the Navy also reactivated the Second Fleet in 2018.
The existing and new mining capabilities of the US Navy could provide an additional layer of defense around strategic assets such as naval bases, ports or even surrounding temporary outposts or forces deployed on small islands like those that dot the Mediterranean or the Pacific. Mines have long been a major factor in denying access to certain areas or deterring amphibious landings, for example. More importantly, the use of remote mines or mines secretly placed by a submarine could prevent adversaries from projecting their own forces, including even leaving their ports, in times of war.
The location of mine-loading exercises in Souda Bay is important given that the eastern Mediterranean is now a hotbed of Russian, and often Russian-American, submarine activity. These new images of mines launched by Navy submarines suggest the service seeks to highlight this capability at a time when growing geopolitical tensions are drawing more attention to submarine activity in the region.
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