obstacles set up in sea, lake, and river areas to destroy enemy ships with mines and make their operations more difficult. Depending on tactical requirements mines in naval minefields are arranged in one, two, or three rows, in mine banks (groups), and in vertical curtains (mines set at different depths). Defensive minefields are established in friendly waters to strengthen the defense of the coast and approaches to bases; active minefields are set up in enemy waters to inflict losses and to complicate the maneuver of enemy ships in the area of bases, ports, and sea-lanes. Minefields are laid by surface ships, submarines, and aircraft. Near the coast minefields are usually covered by the fire of coastal batteries to prevent sweeping of defensive minefields. Mine protectors are set in front of the minefields. Special vessels called minesweepers are used to negotiate minefields.
Minefields were first used during the Crimean War of 1853–56 by the Russian Navy to defend Kronstadt; on the approaches to Revel, Sveaborg, and Ust’-Dvinsk; on the Danube and luzhnyi Bug rivers; and in the Kerch’ Strait. In June 1855 four English warships were blown up by mines near Kronstadt. The Americans made use of this experience in the Civil War of 1861–65. In the Russo-Japanese War of 1904—05 two Japanese battleships, two cruisers, and nine other vessels were destroyed in Russian naval minefields during the defense of Port Arthur; the Russian battleship Petropavlovsk and a few other ships perished in the Japanese minefields. During World War I (1914—18) mines were used on a large scale. About 310,000 mines were used in minefields by all the warring countries. Between 1914 and 1918 more than 200 warships and as many as 180 minesweepers perished in the minefields of all the naval theaters. During World War II (1939-45), minefields were widely used, including fields laid by aircraft in harbors, roadsteads, and sea- and river-lanes. During the war a total of more than 700,000 mines were laid.
S. D. MOGIL’NYI