termeasures, explosive ordnance disposal, MCM detachments, and surface mine countermeasures ships.

  • The Avenger-class MCM-1 ship capable of mine sweeping, mine hunting, and mine neutralization: the MCM-1 carries the AN/SQQ-30 (AN/SQQ-32 on later ships of the class) variable-depth mine hunting sonar and the AN/SLQ-48 mine neutralization vehicle.

  • The Osprey-class MHC-51 coastal mine hunter equipped with the AN/

    SQQ-32 variable-depth mine hunting sonar and the AN/SLQ-48 mine neutralization vehicle.

  • The MH-53E Sea Stallion MCM helicopter capable of sweeping mechanical (Mk-103) and influence (Mk-104/105/106, AN/SPU-1 Orange Pipe) mines and mine hunting (AN/AQS-14).

  • Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and special forces (i.e., SEALs capable of mine intelligence, reconnaissance, and the placement of neutralization charges).

  • The Mk-4 (moored mine hunting), Mk-5 (mine recovery), Mk-6 (swimmer defense), and Mk-7 (bottom mine hunting) mammal systems. These systems are capable of detecting buried mines and placing neutralization charges on moored, bottom, and buried mines.

At present, no other country can match the MCM capability resident in these six systems. Although countries such as Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium have a respectable MCM capability, none have airborne MCM, nor do they have mammal systems with their unique mine hunting and mine neutralization capabilities. This is not to say, however, that the U.S. Navy's existing systems represent a balanced, trouble-free capability. The Italian nonmagnetic Isotta-Fraschini diesel engines, which are the main power systems aboard the MCM-1 and MHC-51, have experienced the "teething" problems expected of any new design. Limited to speeds of 13.5 and 15 knots, respectively, these ships cannot deploy with the battle group and must be forward deployed or transported to a crisis site by heavy-lift ship as was done in the Persian Gulf War.

The AN/SLQ-48 mine neutralization vehicle used by both the MCM-1 and the MHC-51 is not well suited to the neutralization of shallow-water mines. The vehicle tends to be underpowered and may leave on the bottom a mine that looks like a mine to any subsequent sonar search and an explosive charge subject to later detonation under proper impact conditions. Although the MH-53E MCM helicopter has mine hunting capability, it does not yet include a neutralization component and the helicopters are not equipped with GPS receivers. Further, MH-53Es are not equipped with artificial horizon and night vision equipment and are thus incapable of night operations.

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