07/23/2016: Polish minesweepers practice looking for mines several times a year to maintain the skills of their crew. Interviews with Polish Navy personnel both on land and at sea.
Footage includes shots of Polish Navy minesweeping vessels at work in the Baltic Sea, dredging for mines and dropping sonar equipment into the water.
For an interview from a NATO mine sweeping commander conducted by Murielle Delaporte at sea with the force, see the following:
What is the current evolution in mines threats precisely as well as in MCMs?
How do you assess innovations regarding the use of unmanned underwater systems?
Our ships are designed to do mine countermeasures, which is not the same as clearing historic ordinance.
Historic ordinance are explosives, which have been lying on the bottom of the sea for a long time.
As long as you do not touch or move them, they are not directly harmful, but the moment you drop your anchor on one of them or try to build a windmill on top of them, then, of course, that is a problem.
To dispose of historic ordinance, however, is not too difficult: you just blow it up and that is what we do on a regular basis: seventy years after WWII, we are still clearing the bottom of the sea with explosives from both WWI and WWII.
Real sea mines on the other hand pose a direct danger to the mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs), which must therefore be well protected from external signatures like acoustics or magnetic sensors.
They used to be made of wood, but now they are made of Glass reinforced polyester (GRP), which does not influence the magnetic field of the earth.
Our engines are also put on mountings, so they do not transfer the noise into the water.
MCMVs are therefore quite safe.
Modern mines can cause real problems, if they target a specific ship or are intended to deny access to a port, stop traffic or alter a strategy.
A mine-layer should however have quite generic mines (as was the case during the first Gulf war when an American ship was hit).
These are cheap weapons, which can be deployed from any kind of ships.
That is why they are so dangerous, but we can handle them.
Regular sea mines are not difficult weapons to acquire, as they are like IEDs on shore.
The more modern and sophisticated mines are harder to find, as they can be hidden taking for instance the appearance of a rock.
That is also the purpose of the NATO MCM groups: we are, of course, ready to counter any real threat, terrorist or else.