USS Guide MSO-447

Iron Men Wooden Ships

MSO Minesweeping



Is the practice of the removal of explosive naval mines, usually by a specially designed ship called a minesweeper using various measures to either capture or detonate the mines, but sometimes also with an helicopter made for that purpose.  Minesweeping has been practiced since the advent of naval mining in 1855.  A sweep is either a contact sweep, a wire dragged through the water by one or two ships to cut the mooring wire of floating mines, or a distance sweep that mimics a ship to detonate the mines. The sweeps are dragged by minesweepers, either purpose-built military ships or converted trawlers used during WWII.  Each run covers between 100 and 200 meters (330 and 660 ft), and the ships must move slowly in a straight line, making them vulnerable to enemy fire.  If a contact sweep hits a mine, the wire of the sweep rubs against the mooring wire until it is cut.  Sometimes "cutters", explosive devices to cut the mine's wire, are used to lessen the strain on the sweeping wire.  Mines cut free are recorded and collected for research or shot with a deck gun.  Minesweepers protect themselves with an oropesa or paravane instead of a second minesweeper.  These are torpedo-shaped towed bodies, similar in shape to a Harvey Torpedo, that are streamed from the sweeping vessel thus keeping the sweep at a determined depth and position.  The mine would be deflected towards the paravane by the wire instead of towards the ship by its wake. More recently, heavy-lift helicopters have dragged minesweeping sleds, as in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.