Minelaying is the act of deploying explosive mines. Historically this
has been carried out by ships, submarines and aircraft. Additionally,
World War I
World War I the term minelayer refers specifically to a naval
ship used for deploying naval mines. "Mine planting" was the term
used for installing controlled mines at predetermined positions in
connection with coastal fortifications or harbor approaches that would
be detonated by shore control when a ship was fixed as being within
the mine's effective range.
Before World War I, mine ships were termed mine planters generally.
For example, in an address to the
United States Navy
United States Navy ships of Mine
Squadron One at Portland, England Admiral Sims used the term “mine
layer” while the introduction speaks of the men assembled from the
“mine planters”. During and after that war the term "mine
planter" became particularly associated with defensive coastal
fortifications. The term "minelayer" was applied to vessels deploying
both defensive- and offensive mine barrages and large scale sea
mining. "Minelayer" lasted well past the last common use of "mine
planter" in the late 1940s.
An army's special-purpose combat engineering vehicles used to lay
landmines are sometimes called "minelayers".
1 Naval minelayers
2 Aerial minelaying
4 See also
Amiral Murgescu of the Romanian Navy, a successful World War II
minelayer that was also employed as a destroyer escort
Swedish minelayer Älvsborg (1974)
Hämeenmaa-class minelayer FNS Uusimaa
The most common use of the term "minelayer" is a naval ship used for
deploying sea mines. In the
Gallipoli Campaign of World War I, mines
laid by the Ottoman Empire's Navy's Nusret sank HMS Irresistible,
HMS Ocean, and the French battleship Bouvet in the
Dardanelles on 18 March 1915. Russian minelayers were also
efficient; sinking the Japanese battleships Hatsuse and Yashima in
1904 in the Russo-Japanese War.
In World War II, the British employed the Abdiel minelayers both as
minelayers and as transports to isolated garrisons, such as
Tobruk. Their combination of high speed (up to 40 knots) and carrying
capacity was highly valued. The French used the same concept for the
A naval minelayer can vary considerably in size, from coastal boats of
several hundred tonnes in displacement to destroyer-like ships of
several thousand tonnes displacement. Apart from their loads of sea
mines, most would also carry other weapons for self-defense, with some
armed well enough to carry out other combat operations besides
minelaying, such as the
World War II
World War II Romanian minelayer Amiral
Murgescu, which was successfully employed as a convoy escort due to
her armament (2 x 105 mm, 2 x 37 mm, 4 x 20 mm, 2
machine guns, 2 depth charge throwers).
Submarines can also be minelayers. The first submarine to be designed
as such was the Russian submarine Krab.
USS Argonaut (SM-1) was another such minelaying submarine.
Although there are no modern submarine minelayers, mines sized to be
deployed from a submarine's torpedo tubes, such as the Stonefish,
allow any submarine to be a minelayer.
In modern times, few navies worldwide still possess minelaying
vessels. The United States Navy, for example, uses aircraft to lay sea
mines instead. Mines themselves have evolved from purely passive to
active; for example the US CAPTOR (enCAPsulated TORpedo) that sits as
a mine until detecting a target upon which a torpedo is launched.
A few navies still have dedicated minelayers in commission, including
those of South Korea, Poland, Sweden and Finland; countries with long,
shallow coastlines where sea mines are most effective. Other navies
have plans to create extemporised minelayers in times of war, for
example by rolling sea-mines into the sea from the vehicle deck
through the open aft doors of a
Roll-on/roll-off ferry. In 1984 the
Libyan Navy was suspected of having mined the
Red Sea a few nautical
miles south of the Suez Canal using the Ro-Ro ferry Ghat, other
nations suspected of having similar wartime plans include Iran and
Beginning in World War II, military aircraft were used to deliver
naval mines by dropping them, attached to a parachute. Germany,
Britain and the United States made significant use of aerial
A new type of magnetic mine dropped by a German aircraft in a campaign
of mining the Thames Estuary in 1939 landed in a mudflat, where
disposal experts determined how it worked, which allowed Britain to
fashion appropriate mine countermeasures.
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force minelaying operations were codenamed
"Gardening". As well as mining the North Sea and approaches to German
ports, mines were laid in the
Danube River near Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
starting on 8 April 1944, to block the shipments of petroleum products
from the refineries at Ploieşti, Romania.
In the Pacific, the US dropped thousands of mines in Japanese home
waters, contributing to that country's defeat.
Aerial mining was also used in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In
Vietnam, rivers and coastal waters were extensively mined with a
modified bomb called a destructor that proved very successful.
JGSDF Type 94 Minelayer
Some examples of minelaying vehicles:
Shielder minelaying system
GMZ family of minelayers, which the
2S4 Tyulpan is based on, using
TM-62 series mines
Type 94 Minelayer
Istrice (M113 variant)
List of mine warfare vessels of the US Navy in the Second World War
Mine Planter Service (U.S. Army)
Submarine mines in United States harbor defense
^ "minelayer". Definitions from Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com.
Retrieved 6 October 2007.
^ Chappel, Gordon. "
Submarine Mine Defense of San Francisco Bay".
Historic California Posts — Forts Under the Sea. California State
Military Museum. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
^ "Principle Armament – Mine Field". FortMiles.org. Retrieved 23 May
^ All Hands, ed. (1919). "Speech of Admiral W. S. Sims, U. S. Navy".
The Northern Barrage, Mine Force, United States Atlantic Fleet, The
North Sea, 1918. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.
^ Smith, Gordon. "Naval War in Outline". World War 1 at Sea: French
^ "Irresistible, Ocean and Bouvet Go Down, Hitting Mines in Strait".
The New York Times. 20 March 1915.
^ Fitzsimons, B (ed.). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century
Weapons and Warfare. p. 104.
^ Adkins, Paul (1997). Codeword Dictionary. Osceola, WI: Motorbooks
International. p. 79.
Hartcup, Guy (1970). The Challenge of War. New York: Taplinger
Hartmann, Gregory K (1979). Weapons that Wait: Mine Warfare in the
U.S. Navy. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.
Naval ships and warships in the Late Modern period
Naval ship classes in service
Amphibious assault ship
Anti-submarine warfare carrier
Fighter catapult ship
Light aircraft carrier
Merchant aircraft carrier
Submarine aircraft carrier
Coastal defence ship
Super-dreadnought (Standard-type battleship)
Flight deck cruiser
Convoy rescue ship
Guided missile destroyer
Amphibious transport dock
Amphibious warfare ship
Dock landing ship
Landing craft carrier
Landing Craft Support
Landing Ship Heavy
Landing ship, infantry
Landing Ship Medium
Landing Ship, Tank
Landing Ship Vehicle
Armed boarding steamer
Coastal Motor Boat
Harbour Defence Motor Launch
Ocean boarding vessel
Steam Gun Boat
Fast attack craft
Mine countermeasures vessel
Command and support
Auxiliary repair dock
Combat stores ship
Fast combat support ship
General stores issue ship
Net laying ship
Ballistic missile submarine
Cruise missile submarine
Littoral combat ship
United States naval ship classes of World War II
Light aircraft carriers
Allen M. Sumner
Robert H. Smith
John C. Butler
Single ship of class
Completed after the war
List of minesweepers of the United States Navy
United States Army
General Henry Knox
Colonel Henry J. Hunt
Colonel George Armistead
1st Lt. William G. Sylvester
Colonel John Storey
Maj. Gen. Arthur Murray
Colonel George Ricker
Colonel Charles W. Bundy
United States Navy
Chimo (ex-Colonel Charles W. Bundy)
Planter (ex-Colonel George Ricker)
Barricade (ex-Colonel John Storey)
Barbican (ex-Colonel George Armistead)
Bastion (ex-Colonel Henry J. Hunt)
Obstructor (ex-1st Lt. William G. Sylvester)
Picket (ex-General Henry Knox)
Trapper / Yamacraw (ex-Maj. Gen. Arthur Murray)
United States Navy
Preceded by: None
Followed by: USS Monadnock
List of mine planters of the United States Army
List of mine warfare vessels of the United States Navy
List of cutters of the United States Coast Guard
Preceded by: HMS Plover
Followed by: M class