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State of mines: Future of naval mine warfare in Asia-Pacific

The graphic above shows some of the key MCMVs operated across the Asia-Pacific that have onboard MCM systems such as unmanned systems, sonars, and sweeps.

Mines constitute the most cost-efficient anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) naval weapon. NATO's Naval Mine Warfare Centre of Excellence defines mines as small, easy to conceal, and cheap explosive devices that require minimal maintenance. These can be easily laid in the water or on seabed from almost any type of platform. Mines have been used by the navies both in defensive and offensive ways. They can be used to directly attack the adversary's ships or submarines or to protect one's own ships, submarines, or critical sea areas, ports, or waterways.

Perceived minefield risks require the deployment of a dedicated means of detecting, classifying, and neutralising the mines – or confirming their absence – imposing intolerable delays to dynamic operations and lending tactical mines a strategic utility. Advances in mine technology have led to countermeasures splitting into two main branches, sweeping and hunting, with mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs) developed to perform either or both roles.

MCMVs, although relatively small in size, are among the most advanced warships in service with unique attributes. MCMVs feature nonmagnetic fibre-reinforced plastic and glass-reinforced plastic hulls that have high acoustic damping, excellent resistance to underwater shock, and good thermal insulation properties. Some MCMVs employ a mix of combined diesel and electrical propulsion or diesel propulsion along with cycloidal propellers to reduce their signature and improve vessel positioning.

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