23 May 2014

IHS Jane’s Highlights CMSI “Chinese Mine Warfare” Study

Chinese Sea Mines,” Underwater Weapons—Mines, Jane’s Underwater Warfare Systems, 19 May 2014.

China reportedly possesses between 50,000 and 100,000 mines, consisting of over 30 varieties of contact, magnetic, acoustic, water pressure, and multiple fuzed weapons. These are divided into mixed reaction sea mines, remote control sea mines, and rocket/rising and mobile mines. Detailed verifiable information on many of these weapons is scarce therefore this entry seeks to introduce the general characteristics derived from the most reliable sources and omits unreliable or speculative performance details. …

According to an assessment for the US Naval War College, China Maritime Studies Department entitled ‘Chinese Mine Warfare’ Number 3, PLA Navy ‘Assassin’s Mace’ issued in 2008, the authors Andrew S Erickson, Lyle J Goldstein, and William S Murray, have identified the application of the Chen-1/2/3 and 6 type influence mines for use in the littoral and in the vicinity of ports and harbours and a T-5 mobile mine, the Soviet-produced PMK-1 and an indigenous Mao-5 rocket rising mines for the deeper waters and sea denial. …

China possesses an inventory of other types of SLMMs, which are referred to as ‘zihang shuilei’ which translates as ‘self navigating mines’. These are launched using a YU series torpedo as the mobile vehicle from submarines. The torpedo will be guided into the shallow or inaccessible areas from the submarine while it stands off in safer waters, and on arrival the mine will be released and primed. This provides a significant covert capability for both offensive and defensive mining.

To counter a perceived capability gap in mining the deeper waters, the Chinese programmes also addressed options for rocket and rising mine systems. From the 1970s when the doctrinal requirement to defend the littoral areas was expanded, the research activities turned to development of directional, rocket and rising mines. Conceptually these would be laid in deep water and have sophisticated control programmes to ensure effective use against the correct target. In particular they sought to use ‘ship count’ and signature recognition techniques as part of the weapon control and logic processes. …

The US Naval War College, China Maritime Studies Department report ‘Chinese Mine Warfare’ Number 3, PLA Navy ‘Assassin’s Mace’ has also identified that the Chinese have at least considered the ‘advantages and lethality’ of using a nuclear warhead on their mines. According to the report a Chinese study in a military 2007 textbook on mine warfare assessed, in the context of Russian Mine Warfare Doctrine, that nuclear weapons would give increased range in term of 100s of meters. Other reports point to the benefit for application of the warhead power in deep water scenarios. The July 2006 issue of the PLAN periodical Modern Navy also discussed the potential of nuclear-armed sea mines. The use of nuclear warheads in this way will however contravene international treaties and also the declared ‘non first use policy’ of the PRC and therefore it is considered that this is an unlikely development. … … …

For the full text of the volume cited here, see Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and William S. Murray, Chinese Mine Warfare: A PLA Navy ‘Assassin’s Mace’ Capability, Naval War College China Maritime Study 3 (June 2009).

Chinese translation (simplified character version/简体版) available: Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and William S. Murray, “中国水雷作战: 中国海军的「杀手锏,” 美海军战院中国海事研究第3号 (2009 六月), translation by苏文启 [Su Wen-Chi], ROC Navy officer (retired).

Chinese translation (traditional character version/繁體版/繁体版) likewise available: Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and William S. Murray, “中國水雷作戰: 中國海軍的「殺手鐧」,” 美海軍戰院中國海事研究第3號 (2009 六月), translation by 蘇文啟 [Su Wen-Chi], ROC Navy officer (retired).

Japanese translation also available: 米海大論文 「中国の機雷戦」の紹介.

For related briefing slides, complete with detailed graphics and photos, Andrew S. Erickson, “Chinese Naval Mine Warfare: A PLA Navy ‘Assassin’s Mace,’” presented atMine Warfare Association (MINWARA) Spring 2009 Regional Conference, “Mine Warfare—‘Home’ and ‘Away’ Game Challenges,” Panama City, FL, 19 May 2009.

For an article endorsing the studys conclusions, see Scott C. Truver, Taking Mines Seriously: Mine Warfare in China’s Near Seas,” Naval War College Review 65.2 (Spring 2012): 30-66.

For an article-length summary of CMSI’s early PRC MIW research, see Andrew Erickson, Lyle Goldstein, and William Murray, China’s ‘Undersea Sentries’: Sea Mines Constitute Lead Element of PLA Navy’s ASW,” Undersea Warfare 9 (Winter 2007): 10-15.

For related analysis, see Norman Polmar, “Is There a Mine Threat?” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 134.2 (February 2008): 88-89.