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For the videogame, see Minesweeper (video game)
US Navy minesweeper USS Pivot in the Gulf of Mexico for sea trials on 12 July 1944

A minesweeper is a small naval warship designed to sweep the water clear of mines.[1] Minesweepers keep waterways clear for shipping. They are quieter and less magnetic than other ships, so the mines won't explode when being swept.

In Great Britain, naval leaders knew before World War I that sea mines were a threat to the nation's shipping. The real threat was not invasion, but blockade aided by mines. Fishing nets pulled behind boats gave an idea on how to clear mines. The Royal Navy used fishermen and their fishing trawlers to keep the English Channel clear of mines.[2] They were supplied with mine gear, rifles, uniforms and pay as the first minesweepers.[3]

The dedicated, purpose-built minesweeper first appeared during World War I. By the end of the war, naval mine technology had grown beyond the ability of minesweepers to detect and remove.[4]

Minesweeping made big advances during World War 2. Fighting nations quickly adapted ships to the task of minesweeping.[5] Both Allied and Axis countries made heavy use of minesweepers throughout the war. Underwater mines remained a problem even after the war ended, and minesweepers were still in use after Japan surrendered to the United States.[6]

After World War 2, allied countries worked on new types of minesweepers.[7] The United States Navy used special landing craft (shallow-water boats) to clear shallow harbors in and around North Korea.[8] As of June 2012, the U.S. Navy had four minesweepers in the Persian Gulf.[9][10]

References[change | change source]

  1. "minesweeper". The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2012. ISBN 9780199891580.
  2. Bacon, Sir Reginald (1919). The Dover patrol 1915-1917. Doran. p. 146.
  3. Hawkins, Nigel (2003). The starvation blockades: naval blockades of WW1. U.S. Naval Institute Press. pp. 60–61. ISBN 0-85052-908-5.)
  4. Hattendorf, John B. (2007). The Oxford encyclopedia of maritime history. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 9780195130751.
  5. Dennis, Peter; Jeffrey Grey; Ewan Morris; Robin Prior; Jean Bou (2012). "Auxiliary Minesweepers". The Oxford companion to Australian military history (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195517842.
  6. Grant, Roderick M., ed. (January 1946). "Sweeping up sudden death". Popular Mechanics. 85 (1): 28–34. ISSN 0032-4558. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  7. Jane's (1997). "Mine Countermeasures". Jane's War at Sea 1897-1997: 100 Years of Jane's Fighting Ships (100 ed.). HarperCollins. p. 224. ISBN 9780004720654. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  8. Dempewolff, Richard F. (February 1952). Grant, Roderick M. (ed.). "Mother of the minesweepers". Popular Science. 97 (2). Hearst Magazines: 97–104. ISSN 0032-4558. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  9. Cavas, Christopher P. (March 15, 2012). "U.S. doubling minesweepers in Persian Gulf". NavyTimes. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  10. "Four U.S. Navy minesweepers arrive in the Gulf". Reuters. 25 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2012.