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ML NEWCON High-Speed Minelayer

The Sea Mine continues to be a constant threat to global navies, with relatively primitive moored and drifting contact mines to technologically sophisticated influence mines. About a million naval mines are reported to be held by more than 60 nations. Since the end of World War II, naval mines have severely damaged or sunk nearly four times as many U.S. Navy ships as all other modes of attack combined. Sea mines inflict damage that costs many times larger more in vessel reconstruction and maintenance than the unit cost of the mine detonated by the ship. Even though mines fail to cause casualties, they have been successful in disabling choke points, stopping, or slowing down amphibious landings, and limiting access to enemy coasts.

The Taiwan Provincial Navy began to develop a high-speed mine-laying craft called the "Minjiang" class in 2014. The design of the ship is focused on reducing the number of operators, increasing the payload and speed, and being able to reach the mission area in a short time. The "Minjiang" class ship is 41 meters long, 8.8 meters wide, has a displacement of 347 tons, a speed of 14 knots, and a range of 1,200 nautical miles. The ship is equipped with an automatic minelaying system to improve operational efficiency; the bow is a T-75 20 mm Machine gun, a T-74 12.7 mm machine gun at the rear.

The Taiwan Navy ordered four "Minjiang"-class mine-laying boats from Longhe Shipbuilding Company. The keel laying ceremony for the first-in-class ship took place on 24 May 2019. The first one is scheduled to enter service in 2021. A keel laying ceremony was held on 17 April 2020 at Taiwanese shipbuilder Lungteh Shipbuilding for the 3rd and 4th Min Jiang-class mine laying ships.

The Navy on 04 August 2020 held a launch ceremony for Taiwan's first domestically-built rapid mine-laying ship as well as a keel-laying ceremony for the second of four minelayers that are part of the government's indigenous ship-building project. The event indicates the expansion of the military's swift underwater mine-laying and joint defense capabilities, the Navy said in a statement. The minelayer project was developed based on enemy threat and combat needs after integrating the military's mine-laying combat plans, the Navy said. It will make it easier to prevent enemy vessels from sailing near Taiwan, the statement said.

One of three funded programs af of 2017, the high-speed minelayer, is basically a fast patrol vessel with a raised afterdeck to carry and deploy mines. Contract for the design work was awarded in April, with construction of four units to begin in 2017. This will allow Taiwan a low-cost, asymmetric capability, compared to relying on high-end aircraft and missiles to encumber an amphibious invasion across the Taiwan Strait from China.

Mines and other objects can be deployed at sea by aircraft, surface ships, submarines or small, self-propelled vehicles. Usually minelayer ships or converted commercial ships such as ferries or oil support vessels are used. The mines are then launched from the ship by trolley or inclined ramp.

The laying of mines in sea lanes and harbors can efficiently restrict and control hostile marine traffic during wartime. At the outbreak of hostilities, it may be very important to quickly secure control of ports, approach channels, and sea lanes of communication. This may require the use of craft of opportunity to reinforce and supplement a navy's fleet of regular minelaying platforms. A craft of opportunity (hereinafter referred to as "ship") can be any ship whose displacement permits it to carry mines in some quantity--that requirement being satisfied, a craft of opportunity can be any ship, military or civilian, slow or fast, large or small, with or without, or with very limited deck space available for the stowage and handling of mines.

Sea mines are quite heavy--some exceed 2,000 lb in weight--and they are typically configured like aircraft bombs. Such massive, rounded devices are quite difficult to handle on an unstable, rolling ship deck, especially in high seas. For safety reasons it has therefore been found desirable to mechanize the mine handling and drop. Minelaying rail systems, in which mines are cradled on wheeled undercarriages that roll in tracks mounted on the deck, have been employed.

Numerous arrangements have been provided previously which anchor the mine at a predetermined distance below the surface of the water with various means for adjusting the depth below the surface, including the commonly used plummet method of depth taking. However, these previous arrangements did not provide for carrying the mine casing to a relatively deep inoperative position with a subsequent release or delayed rising after a certain time interval to a predetermined adjustable depth below the surface, Where the mine would be operative for its intended purpose, nor did they prevent the mine from being carried below a predetermined maximum depth which would crush the mine casing.

A mine anchor is detachably secured to a buoyant mine casing and incorporates a novel mechanism having a threaded rod along which travels a small trolley. A plummet is also releasably secured to the anchor and is adapted to be released a predetermined time after the mine is launched. A plummet cable attached to the plummet is wound around a drum and passes over a measuring pulley which rotates the threaded rod in one direction during descent of the plummet.

In known mine layers, the mine holes are made either by spade-like digging devices or by means of ploughs. But if the ground is hard or even stony, these mine layers can no longer be used. The mines therefore have to be laid in the open. Moreover, the disadvantage of plough-like devices is that they are exposed to considerable bending moments as a result of the load exerted on them, together with the linkages which connect them to the respective mine transport vehicle. Furthermore, in the known instances, there are no possibilities of levelling the terrain again for camouflage purposes after the mine laying.

Navies are tending to use dedicated minelayer ships less, with the intention being to use converted commercial ships in times of hostilities. Such ships are vulnerable to attack, particularly in a period leading up to hostilities. Additionally, the major proportion of mines will be carried in a very few ships making the potential effect of the loss of even one ship very heavy.

Ship List
Name # Builder Laid
Launch Comm Decomm Notes
1 24 May
04 Aug
2 04 Aug
3 17 Apr
4 17 Apr

Displacement, full500 tons
Displacement, light tons
Length, O/A meters / feet
Length, W/L meters / feet
Length, B/P meters / feet
Max Beam meters / feet
Draft meters / feet
Height meters / feet
Propulsion Type
Speed, maximum knots
Speed, Cruise Knots
Range nautical miles at knots
Stores endurance days
Weapons Systems
  • Aviation none

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    Page last modified: 08-01-2021 13:53:58 ZULU