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Minelaying is the act of deploying explosive mines. Historically this has been carried out by ships, submarines and aircraft. Additionally, the term minelayer refers specifically to a naval ship used for deploying sea mine.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. The term also sometimes refers to an army's special-purpose combat engineering vehicles used to lay land mines.

Naval minelayers

Swedish minelayer Ãlvsborg (1974)
The most common use of the term "minelayer" is a naval ship used for deploying sea mine. In the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I, mines laid by the Ottoman Empire's Navy's Nusrat sank , , and the French battleship Bouvetmarker in the Dardanellesmarker on 18 March 1915 . The Russian minelayer Amur was also efficient; it sank the Japanese battleships Hatsuse and Yashima in 1904 during the Russo-Japanese War.

In World War II, the British employed the Abdiel class minelayers both as minelayers and as transports to isolated garrisons, such as Maltamarker and Tobrukmarker. Their combination of high speed (up to 40 knots) and carrying capacity was highly valued. The French used the same concept for the Pluton.

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 in displacement. Apart from their loads of sea mines, most would also carry other weapons for self-defense.

Submarines can also act as minelayers. The first submarine to be designed as such was the Russian submarine Krab. was also one such minelaying submarine.

Aerial minelaying

Beginning in World War II, aircraft were used to deliver mines. They would be dropped, attached to a parachute. Germanymarker, Britainmarker, and the U.S.marker made significant use of aerial minelaying. The British, in codename Operation GARDENING, dropped mines in the Danube River near Belgrademarker, Yugoslavia, starting on 1944-04-08, to block the shipments of petroleum products from the refineries at Ploeştimarker, Romaniamarker. A German magnetic mine landed in a mudflat where disposal experts deciphered its operation, which allowed Britain to fashion appropriate countermeasures. In the Pacific, the U.S. dropped thousands of mines in Japanesemarker home waters, contributing to that country's defeat.

Mining was also used in the Korean War and in Vietnam. In Vietnam, rivers and coastal waters were extensively mined with a modified bomb called a destructor that proved very successful.

In modern times, most navies worldwide no longer possess any minelaying vessels; the United States Navy, for example, uses aircraft to lay sea mines instead. A few navies still have minelayers in commission; these include South Koreamarker, Norwaymarker, Swedenmarker. and Finlandmarker, countries with long, shallow coastlines where sea mines are most effective.

See also


  1. |Ft. Miles - Principle Armament - Mine Field - Army Mine Planters
  2.| Submarine Mine Defense of San Francisco Bay
  3. | WORLD WAR 1 at SEA
  4. | New York Times, Saturday, March 20, 1915
  5. Fitzsimons, B. (Ed.), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare, p 104.
  6. Adkins, Paul; Codeword Dictionary; 1997; Osceola, Wisconsin; Motorbooks International; p. 79.


  • Hartcup, Guy. The Challenge of War. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company, 1970.
  • Hartmann, Gregory K. Weapons that Wait: Mine Warfare in the U.S. Navy. Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute Press, 1979. ISBN 0870217534.

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