Mine Warfare

Because their covertness permits them to enter waters denied to surface ships or aircraft, submarines can be highly effective in both minelaying and mine reconnaissance. Most attack submarines can carry the Submarine Launched Mobile Mine (SLMM) as part of their weapon loadout. Indeed, the Submarine Force keeps a fixed number of SLMMs on forward-deployed boats to fulfill specific Theater CINC warfighting requirements.

Improved Submarine-Launched Mobile Mine (ISLMM)

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Because of the significant “force-multiplier” value of naval mines, the Navy has decided to pursue an innovative modification of early variants of the Mk 48 heavyweight torpedo to an Improved SLMM configuration. A joint effort with the Royal Australian Navy, ISLMM will provide the covert capability to plant minefields from a safe standoff distance throughout the world’s littoral regions, to interdict military and hostile commercial traffic, and thereby support sea control and battlespace dominance needs. ISLMM characteristics offer increased range and precision placement accuracy, course-change capabilities, low-cost maintenance, and greater loadout for the delivery submarine compared to the obsolescent Mk 67 SLMM. Armed with two warheads, each ISLMM will be able to attack two separate targets. The Mk 48-based delivery vehicle will be compatible with all current and future submarine weapons-handling rooms and launch tubes.


Unmanned Underwater Vehicles

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The Navy’s first priority in its Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) plan is the rapid development of a covert mine reconnaissance capability. The Near-Term Mine Reconnaissance System (NMRS) is being developed to meet this pressing requirement. NMRS will maximize the use of existing Commercial Off-The-Shelf systems in a tethered vehicle capable of launch and recovery from the torpedo tubes of Los Angeles (SSN-688)-class submarines. NMRS will integrate forward-looking sonar for obstacle avoidance and initial search capability with an improved AN/AQS-14 side scan sonar for target classification. The Long-Term Mine Reconnaissance System (LMRS) is in development to enter service in the next decade to provide a robust, long-term capability to conduct clandestine minefield reconnaissance. The untethered LMRS will replace the NMRS and provide a significantly improved capability, including submarine launch and recovery, as well as autonomous operation and endurance of more than 40 hours.