demonstrated the helicopter's ability to pick up the WP system and redeploy it for another pass.

  • Guinea pig ships and barges. Platforms with a signature large enough to activate mines, and ''ruggedized" to accept several mine blasts before suffering incapacitating damage, constitutes an old MCM concept. Liberty ships of around 10,000-ton displacement with skeleton crews standing on mattresses to prevent broken bones were used to sweep against U.S. forces' pressure influence mines in the waters around the home islands of Japan following World War II. The Minesweeper Special (MSS) program of the 1960s modified a ship of similar size by using water ballast to reduce shock wave impedance, styrofoam to provide extra buoyancy in case of flooding, deck-mounted long-stem Marion Tregurtha outboard power plants in case of shaft misalignment or propeller damage to the ship's own power system, and a shock-mounted pilot house for the seven-man crew. Tests indicated that the MSS suffered only minor structural damage, and no personnel damage, from a 2,000-pound mine detonated 35 feet off the beam at a depth of 65 feet. A modified tank landing ship (LST) was used as a guinea pig to proof the Haiphong harbor minefields cleared by Operation Endsweep. The guinea pig concept has been tested, it has utility under certain MCM conditions, and it should not be allowed to drop from the corporate memory.

The panel notes the utility of an unmanned, remotely controlled, GPS-navigated barge with sufficient independent compartments, filled with buoyant material such as hardened polymer foam, to withstand several mine blasts of the type expected in the surf zone to high water mark. Once larger mines have been cleared from the deeper water where they will most likely occur, such a barge could provide a channel of its own width to the beach. Precise tracking of the barge as it proceeded would allow accurate definition of a "proven" channel and would allow similarly GPS-equipped assault vehicles to transit safely to the beach. The guinea pig barge could be remotely controlled or have a one- or two-man crew on a shock-mounted platform at the stern. It could also carry enough rigid polyurethane foam material to build a mine-masking road from its bow to the back-beach area, with sufficient bearing strength to be used by vehicles up to the size and weight of tanks. The barge could, of course, be stopped at the first line of obstacles, which may extend as far seaward as the surf zone.



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