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[This War of Mine]Navy Offers Glimpse Of Its Submarine-Launched Mine Capabilities In The Mediterranean

Time:2021-10-07 06:23:13

  The development of these new anti-submarine capabilities coincides with expanding submarine threats from potential “great power” adversaries such as Russia and China, with smaller nations also becoming increasingly able to harness effective naval power via underwater means. It’s possible the Sixth Fleet’s recent publicized exercises with the Mk 67 SLMM were intended as a reminder of this capability to adversary submarine forces in the area.

  The U.S. Sixth Fleet, which operates in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa, has been increasingly tasked with projecting power in the eastern portion of the Mediterranean as a counterbalance to the Russian buildup in and around Syria. “We’re watching them [the Russians] very very closely,” said U.S. Navy Rear Admiral William Houston in 2019 while serving as the Deputy Commander of Sixth Fleet. “There’s really not a day where we’re not watching them, every single day.” In response to this uptick 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 U.S. Navy’s existing and new mine capabilities could provide an additional layer of defense around strategic assets like 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 component of denying access to certain areas or deterring amphibious landings, for instance. Most importantly, the use of standoff mines or those covertly emplaced by a submarine could prevent adversaries from projecting their own forces, including even leaving their harbors, during a time of war.

  The location of the mine-loading exercises in Souda Bay is significant given that the Eastern Mediterranean is now a hotbed of Russian, and often Russian-US submarine activity. These new images of the Navy’s submarine-launched mines suggest the service is seeking to highlight this capability at a time when growing geopolitical tensions are drawing more attention to submarine activity in the region.

  Contact the author: Brett@TheDrive.com

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