April 1, 2013  

To the Navy

For its recent efforts in mine warfare.

Navy interest in mine warfare historically follows a kind of sine-wave pattern, as Defense News naval correspondent Christopher P. Cavas puts it. In the 1980s and 1990s, when the Avenger mine countermeasures ships were sliding down the ways, the danger was underscored by the minings of the supertanker Bridgeton, guided missile frigate Samuel B. Roberts, cruiser Princeton and amphibious assault ship Tripoli. But attention eventually waned, even if the threat did not.

In recent years, the fleet’s focus on the littorals in general and tensions with Iran in particular has returned mine warfare to the front burner. The Navy is working up its mine-warfare module for the littoral combat ship, is meeting an urgent requirement for the SeaFox mine-neutralization system, and is holding major international mine-warfare exercises in the Arabian Gulf. Keep it up. Until technology renders the oceans transparent, the mine will remain the cheap and potent improvised explosive device of the sea.