Time and time again, mines have shown their lethality against modern and capable ships. There can be no doubt that naval mines can pose a serious threat. Modern, high-tech Western navies are ill-equipped to strike offensively with mines and have had mixed success in dousing their potency. The U.S. Navy and its allies must never underestimate the devastating offensive capabilities of naval mines or the eagerness of their adversaries to use them.
One morose example of how simple, inexpensive mines can guide the fate of nations is the failed Anglo-French attempt to force the Dardanelles Strait during World War I. Here, the Royal Navy—the world’s greatest naval power, which had comfortably ruled the waves since Trafalgar—faced off against the waning, flailing star of the Ottoman Empire.
1. Admiral Sir Reginald H. Bacon, The Life of Lord Fisher of Kilverstone, (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1929), 222.
2. Robert K. Massie, Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany and the Winning of the Great War at Sea, (New York: Random House, 2003), Chapter 26.
3. Bacon, Life of Lord Fisher, 222.
4. Massie, Castles of Steel, Chapter 24.
5. Massie, Castles of Steel, Chapter 24.
6. Massie, Castles of Steel, Chapter 25.
7. Bacon, Life of Lord Fisher, 221.
8. Bacon, Life of Lord Fisher, 221.
9. Bacon, Life of Lord Fisher, 227.
10. Massie, Castles of Steel, Chapter 25.
11. John H. Cushman Jr., “U.S. Finds 2 Mines Where Ship Was Damaged,” The New York Times, 16 April 1988.
12. Cushman, “Blast Damages U.S. Frigate.”
13. Elaine Sciolino, “U.S. and Soviet Protest to Libya Over Iran Mines,” The New York Times, 11 September 1987.
14. Iranian Naval Forces: A Tale of Two Navies, (Suitland, MD: Office of Naval Intelligence, 2017), 29.
15. R. W. Apple Jr., “2 U.S. Ships Badly Damaged by Iraqi Mines in Persian Gulf,” The New York Times, 19 February 1991.
16. Justine Barden, “The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important oil transit chokepoint,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, 20 June 2019.
17. Lejla Villar and Mason Hamilton, “World Oil Transit Chokepoints,” (Washington, DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2017), 4–6.
18. Barden, “Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important.”
19. Iranian Naval Forces, 5.
20. Iranian Naval Forces, 22.
21. Weiyi Cai, Denise Lu, and Anjali Shinghvi, “Three Attacks in the World’s Oil Choke Point,” The New York Times, 21 June 2019.
22. Iranian Naval Forces, 29.