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a warship with the mission of laying minefields near one’s own bases, ports, bays, and shores for defensive purposes, as well as near the shores and on the communication lines of the enemy to inflict losses on him. The forerunners of the modern minelayers were the mine depot ships Bug andDunai, which were built in Russia in the late 19th century upon the initiative of Admiral S. O. Makarov.
Minelayers may be surface vessels or submarines. Surface minelayers are divided into sea and river types; they may be either ships especially built to lay mines or reequipped civilian transport ships. As a rule they carry out their mission under the cover of other warships of the fleet, coastal artillery batteries, and fighter aviation. Minelayers are armed with artillery, mainly antiaircraft artillery, special equipment, and devices for the loading, storage, preparation, and laying of a large number of different types of modern mines. The water displacement of minelayers is between 300 and 8,000 tons, and their speed is between 10 and 20 knots (18 to 37 km/hr). A submarine minelayer is either a conventional large submarine or a partially reequipped one. It is used mainly to lay mines near enemy coastlines. Mines are laid by torpedo tubes and, on specially equipped ships, with mine pipes or shafts. The first attempt to build a submarine minelayer was undertaken by M. P. Naletov in 1904; the first submarine minelayer, the Krab, was built according to his plans in 1912 and commissioned in 1915.