Mine Warfare Command
The U.S. Navy's Mine Warfare Command (MINEWARCOM) was established on 1 July 1975 in Charleston, South Carolina. Initially, Commander, Mine Warfare Command (COMINEWARCOM) served as a technical advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) on all mine warfare matters including readiness, training, tactics, and doctrine. COMINEWARCOM coordinated mine countermeasures (MCM) matters with the fleet commanders, who controlled air, surface, and undersea mining and MCM assets.
On 2 January 1992, based upon a thorough analysis of the lessons of the Persian Gulf conflict and other post-World War II mine crises, the CNO approved a far-reaching plan to revitalize the nation's mine warfare forces. Key to the plan, Commander, Mine Warfare Command (COMINEWARCOM) assumed operational and administrative control of the surface mine countermeasures (SMCM) ships and operational control of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) MCM detachments. As part of this reorganization, COMINEWARCOM began reporting directly to Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, with additional duty as primary advisor to Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT), and technical advisor to Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic (SACLANT) and Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR) for mine warfare matters. On 1 April 1992, COMINEWARCOM assumed operational control of the airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) helicopter squadrons.
The structure of the Navy's Mine Force has changed dramatically throughout history, in stride with the structure of the Navy in general. During World War II, the Navy's mine warfare assets were in the charge of Commander, Service Squadron FIVE in the Atlantic. Commander, Service Squadron SIX commanded assets in the Pacific Fleet early in the war, followed by the first true MCM type command, Minecraft, U.S. Pacific Fleet. In the postwar reorganization of the fleets, seven type commands were created, each responsible for the condition and readiness of different types of ships, including the Mine Force. In 1946, Mine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (MINELANT) was created. The Pacific Fleet followed suit in 1947, establishing MINEPAC.
On 1 July 1971, MINELANT and MINEPAC were consolidated under one two-star type commander, as Commander, Mine Warfare Force (COMINEWARFOR), based at Charleston. COMINEWARFOR reported administratively to the CNO through the fleet commanders and operationally acted as a task force commander assigned to fleets as needed. Responsible for the readiness of all MCM units, COMINEWARFOR operated and maintained all SMCM units and AMCM sweeping systems. He also held sole responsibility for readiness and minefield planning.
The transformation of MINEWARFOR to MINEWARCOM in 1975 came on the heels of a Navy consolidation of type commands. During that time, all ships assigned to the cruiser-destroyer, amphibious, service, and MCM type commands were transferred to Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMNAVSURFLANT) and Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMNAVSURFPAC). Helicopters remained under the command of naval air force type commands in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets.
Since the 1992 reorganization that resulted in operational commander status of COMINEWARCOM, the consolidation and development of the dedicated mine countermeasures "triad" of today has taken form. The South Texas Mine Warfare Center of Excellence was established in 1992, with the first two mine countermeasures ships (MCMs) arriving for homeporting at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Ingleside in the spring of that year.
In 1993, the MINEWARCOM headquarters was relocated from Charleston to Naval Air Station (NAS) Corpus Christi. The Mobile Mine Assembly Group (MOMAG) headquarters also relocated from Charleston to NAS Corpus Christi in 1993, as did the Mine Warfare Inspection Group (MINSGRU). The first coastal minehunter (MHC) was commissioned and joined the Mine Force that same year, complementing the MCMs, the first of which was commissioned in 1987. MINSGRU has since been disestablished.
The conversion of USS Inchon (MCS 12) from the amphibious assault ship (LPH) mission, to that of mine countermeasures command, control and support (MCS) was completed in 1996. Inchon arrived in Ingleside for homeporting on 20 July 1996. In the meantime, Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron FIFTEEN (HM-15) had completed its move from NAS Alameda to NAS Corpus Christi on 30 June 1996.
Today's Mine Warfare Command consists of more than 4000 active duty and reserve personnel from every major community in the Navy: surface, subsurface, and aviation. The surface force consists of 12 MHCs, 14 MCMs, and USS Inchon. Twenty MH-53E helicopters divided between two squadrons, HM-14 and HM-15 make up the air element, and underwater assets include approximately 150 special operations divers split into seventeen MCM EOD detachments around the globe. Three Mine Countermeasures Squadrons (MCMRONs) serve as tactical MCM commanders, working directly with fleet commanders, as well as serving as immediate superior in command (ISIC) for their assigned MCMs and MHCs. Rounding out the force, nine Mobile Mine Assembly Units (MOMAUs) worldwide maintain the Navy's mine stockpile, under the command of Commanding Officer, Mobile Mine Assembly Group (COMOMAG).
The mine warfare ships are organized into deployable readiness groups to accomplish three important objectives. First, this ensures that the mine warfare ships are aligned with deploying carrier and amphibious battle groups so that they can exercise and train in the United States just as they will fight, should that be required. The combat readiness in the mine force is the highest priority -- the reason for the existence of this very capable mine warfare force. Second, the deployment cycles improve the ships' and crews abilities to be self sufficient to the greatest extent possible. Finally, these deployments help sailors to realize their professional, combat skills. As they do this, they also help to bring to the rest of the fleet expertise in mine warfare readiness that will result in the entire fleet more aware of and professionally competent in our Chief of Naval Operations and Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet objective to make mine warfare a core competency of every Sailor and officer in the fleet.
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