Mine Countermeasures Evolving Towards Mix-And-Match Capabilities, Personnel

The Navy is trending towards a mix-and-match set of people, platforms and sensors to detect and destroy mines, a departure from the simpler legacy mine countermeasures setup with a single helicopter type and a single wooden-hull ship class, set for replacement by the new Littoral Combat Ship and its neatly defined mission package.

“The more the merrier in terms of diversity of approaches,” Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David Coffman, director of the expeditionary warfare division on the chief of naval operations staff (OPNAV N95), said Tuesday at the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Expeditionary Warfare Conference.

Several speakers at the conference described LCSs deploying assets outside the planned MCM mission package, mission package equipment being used on cruisers and destroyers, and manned and unmanned platforms teaming up to create more range and capability than previously envisioned.

One trend is operating the land-based Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures (ExMCM) Company, which falls under the Explosive Ordnance Disposal community at Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, aboard Navy ships.

“We’ve taken our ExMCM company with their Mk 18 family of (unmanned underwater vehicle) systems, we’ve put them aboard cruisers and destroyers and had them do extensive rehearsals of the actual operations – and in some cases, in exercises and operations we’ve actually used those platforms,” Capt. Michael Egan, Commander of Task Force 52 within U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said at the conference.
“We are already working off of amphibious ships, not only the [USS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB-3)] and the [decommissioned Ponce (AFSB-I-15)] before that, but also the British auxiliaries. We’re not just limiting ourselves to our own ships, we’re working with our allies and our coalition partners and their ships as well.”

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Source: USNI News