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Sea Transportation: The Chinese Nightmare
   Next Article → WARPLANES: Keeping UAV Secrets
June 10, 2007: What China fears the most from the U.S. Navy is an attack that plants naval mines outside Chinas principal ports. China has a long (14,500 kilometers) coastline, and has been putting a lot of effort into defending it, and the ports that are a key part of the booming economy. Mindful of Americas efforts to build a new class of coastal warships (the LCS), China has developed a family of anti-ship missiles that can be launched from coastal positions. The 220 pound C701 has a range of 15 kilometers. The C704 weighs 700 pounds and has a range of 35 kilometers. The C802 weighs 1,600 pounds and has a range of 120-180 kilometers, depending on the version. The C602 weighs 3,000 pounds and has a range of over 280 kilometers. China has bought anti-ship missiles from Russia with even longer ranges, and is adapting their technology to their own designs. While all these missiles make it difficult for hostile warships to get close to the Chinese coast, stopping enemy aircraft and submarines are another matter. Since World War II, the United States has continued its preference for delivering naval mines via aircraft and submarine. China has invested heavily in the most modern Russian anti-aircraft systems. While comparable to the U.S. Patriot, the Russian equipment is untested in combat. China is even worse off when it comes to anti-submarine warfare. Keeping out those American naval mines looks like an impossible task. The U.S. B-2 Stealth bomber was designed for solo missions like this, in addition to aircraft from carriers.

 

During World War II, 2,665 ships were lost or damaged by "offensive" 100,000 naval mines (placed where ships were expected to move). That's one ship for every 37 mines. Some 208,000 mines were used defensively to inhibit enemy movement and tie up his resources.

 

During World War II, naval mines  proved more destructive to the Japanese war effort than the atom bombs. During a 10 week period between April and August 1945, 12,000 mines were delivered by American bombers. These destroyed 1,250,000 tons of Japanese shipping (670 ships hit, 431 destroyed). That's 18 mines for each ship hit.

 

A conventional submarine campaign was also waged against Japanese shipping, but the mines turned out to be a more effective weapon. A hundred submarines were involved in a campaign that ran for 45 months from December, 1941 to August, 1945. Some 4.8 million tons of enemy shipping was sunk. For every US submarine sailor lost using submarine launched torpedoes, 560 tons of enemy ships were sunk. During the mine campaign, 3,500 tons were sunk for each US fatality. On a cost basis, the difference was equally stark. Counting the cost of lost mine laying aircraft (B-29's at $500,000 each) or torpedo armed submarine ($5 million each), we find that each ton of sunk shipping cost six dollars when using mines and fifty-five dollars when using submarines. These data was classified as secret until the 1970s. It indicates that mines might have been more effective than torpedoes even if the mines were delivered by submarine.

 

The Germans waged a minelaying campaign off the east coast of the United States between 1942 and 1944. Only 317 mines were used, which sank or damaged 11 ships. This was a ratio of 29 mines used for each ship hit. In addition, eight ports were closed for a total of 40 days. One port, Charleston, South Carolina, was closed for 16 days, tying up not only merchant shipping but the thousands of men, warships and aircraft dealing with the situation. American submarines also waged a limited mine campaign in the Pacific. For 658 mines used, 54 ships were sunk or damaged (12 mines per ship). No subs were lost. Considerable Japanese resources were tied up dealing with the mines. On the Palau atoll, the port was closed by the mines and not reopened until the war ended. Even surface ships were used to lay mines. Three thousand mines were laid by destroyers. Only 12 ships were hit, but these were barrier fields, not the ambush type mine fields that a submarine can create by sneaking into an enemy held area.

 

Since World War II, naval mines have not lost their edge. The mines have become more capable, and have more than kept up with methods used to find and destroy them. This has been demonstrated numerous times in the last sixty years. At the moment, China is more vulnerable to naval mines, than to any other type of American naval weapon. Any Chinese plans for naval operations has to deal with this vulnerability. At the moment, China comes up short in defending against any American naval force determined to deliver those mines.

 

Next Article → WARPLANES: Keeping UAV Secrets
  

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j24fan    Mine China with What?   6/11/2007 12:00:47 PM
Great thesis, but when I went through minewarfare school in the mid 80's - we didn't have enough mines in our inventory to mine a single major harbor, never mind the entire Chinese coastline.
 
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politics forum       6/13/2007 1:58:46 PM
I don't even think it's necessary for the United States to mine Chinese ports in the advent of war.  Aside from the problem of the Chinese coastline being crawling with submarines (although most are admittedly obsolete), China's naval transport capabilities are so weak that they are not even worth mining.  The first priority would probably be getting air superiority in China's maritime areas, and that could be done with various US Air Force and Navy assets.




My international <a href="http://www.politicsforumpoliticalworld.com/">politics forum</a>
 
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Lehuster    counterproductive   6/13/2007 2:40:56 PM
Mine the Chinese harbors?  Why, there'd be nothing left on the shelves in our stores...
 
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Herald1234       6/13/2007 2:57:30 PM

Great thesis, but when I went through minewarfare school in the mid 80's - we didn't have enough mines in our inventory to mine a single major harbor, never mind the entire Chinese coastline.



1. Since the 1980s I suggest that things might have changed.
2. Never give the enemy ANY information.
3. I can think of four ways to mine PRC waters COTS, quickly using EU resources. .
4. The legitimate target for the USN is the PRC merchant marine.
 
Herald 
 
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Softwar       6/13/2007 3:06:26 PM

Mine the Chinese harbors?  Why, there'd be nothing left on the shelves in our stores...



That's okay - WalMart needs new suppliers in India, the Phillipines, and South Korea.
 
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Shooter2K       6/13/2007 6:44:29 PM
The author of this article has failed to understand the revolution in military affairs that is now two decades under way! Why would a B-2 drop 16 mines with a 1/20 chance to hit? when all 16 weapons are now virtualy guranteed to hit? Information warfare and precision strike has for ever changed the way wars will be fought.
 
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Nichevo    Because   6/17/2007 2:03:26 AM
1)  JDAMs etc cost $20K-$1M; mines are like a nickel (lol, but cheap)
2)  Mines are persistent.  JDAMs have to be dropped when the target is there, mines a day, week, month, year before
3)  Mines attack ships from below, a weak point, and can be as large as needed
4)  Mines are invulnerable to SAMs
5)  Mere threat of mines affects enemy naval/marine performance
6)  Must we do EVERYTHING the most expensive way?
7)  Perhaps B-2s will be busy elsewhere sometimes
8)  Perhaps we need PGMs for other targets, e.g. on land
9)  Make Chicoms expend resources on mine warfare
10) I suppose bullets are obsolete too

The author of this article has failed to understand the revolution in military affairs that is now two decades under way! Why would a B-2 drop 16 mines with a 1/20 chance to hit? when all 16 weapons are now virtualy guranteed to hit? Information warfare and precision strike has for ever changed the way wars will be fought.



 
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Nichevo    Because-oh and   6/17/2007 2:05:23 AM
11) Mines can't be jammed or spoofed or decoyed, and if GPS is out, or EMP takes out all commo, mines will still work
 
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