Surface Forces: The Great American Mine Hunter Give-Away


August 15, 2006: The U.S. Navy is decommissioning its twelve Osprey mine hunting ships. The Ospreys entered service in the 1990s, and are being offered to Lithuania (free), Taiwan (cheap) and Turkey (very cheap). The 893 ton, 188 foot long ships require a crew of 51 and carry mine hunting sonar, and gear for destroying any mines found. The Ospreys are being replace by LCS ships carrying the mine countermeasures module. However, the LCS is about three times larger than the Ospreys, and may not be able to go places the Osprey's could go.
LCS is supposed to be the Navy's green/brown water "solution", but many counter-mine experts believe it is too big for the mine clearing job. And the LCS costs a heck of a lot more. And won't be available until several years after the Osperys are gone, leaving the U.S. with only a handful of mine warfare vessels, of the somewhat larger Avenger Class (MCM-1), which run about 1400 tons.
Counter Mine operations have always gotten the short end of the stick in the U.S. Navy. This is more a tradition, than a conscious decision to downplay this threat. American sailors have always been able to scramble and overcome naval mines during the few instances where a lot of them were encountered. One of these days, that famous luck will run out.




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