3 Minesweeper Squadron
The fight against sea mines is a task for specialists – the Kiel-based minehunters clear sea routes to allow safe maritime traffic.
3 Minesweeper Squadron operates ten Frankenthal class minehunters. This type of vessel pools all of the Navy’s combined naval mine countermeasures capabilities: targeted minehunting and clearance diving as well as large-area minesweeping.
The squadron’s vessels continuously support national and international manoeuvres, operations and maritime task forces. Normally, two of the squadron’s vessels are assigned to the two Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Groups, SNMCMG 1 and 2, operating in the Mediterranean and the North-East Atlantic.
Minehunters, or more correctly, mine countermeasure (MCM) vessels, have several means to detect and remove underwater threats. They can control cable-guided underwater drones able to identify and destroy mines. They can deploy Sea Battalion clearance divers able to dispose of explosive devices in places that are difficult to access, like harbours or beaches. And they can control Seehund class unmanned surface vessels that simulate the engine noise and magnetic fields of larger vessels to cause bottom mines to detonate. The objective of applying either one of these capabilities or, depending on the situation, a smart combination of them, is to establish safe sea routes for other vessels.
In addition to the Frankenthal class vessels, 3 Minesweeper Squadron also operates two Ensdorf class former MCM drone control vessels. Not as state-of-the-art as the other minehunters, they act as the squadron’s reserve being used for training and presentation purposes.
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