Air International 1995-08
F.Colucci - Sweeping The Sea
The US Navy deployed the Magic Lantern mine hunting laser system on the SH-2F Seasprite in the Persian Gulf first in 1987, then during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The podded mine detector, seen here undergoing trials on Naval Air Test Center Seasprite 161641, is still under development and may be carried by the SH-60B/K Seahawk.
Sikorsky HSS-1 Seabat 139024 in use for AMCM tests in the early 1960s - the type was never adopted for this role by operational squadrons as it lacked sufficient power for minesweeping operations.
The Mk 105 hydrofoil sled was rushed into production in 1972 and remains the primary sweeping tool for magnetic influence mines. The sled is deployed from ships or shore bases on its pontoon floats, and the hydrofoils are swung down into the water for tow.
HM-12 used the RH-53D to clear the Suez Canal during Operation Nimbus Star in 1974. One of the unit’s Sea Dragons is seen here on April 27, 1974 towing a Mk 105 sled along the Canal.
An RH-53D of HM-12 Detachment 2 prepares to lift off the deck of USS Inchon in August 1975 during Operation Nimbus Stream to locate and clear mines from Egyptian coastal waters.
HM-12 flew from Ismailia, Egypt and a northern forward operating location to clear the Suez Canal with the Mk 105 magnetic sled under Operation Nimbus Star. Here, HM-12 RH-53D 158693/'07/DH' is about to pick up one of the sleds at Ismailia on April 24, 1974.
The RH-3A Sea King gave the US Navy its first operational AMCM capability with Helicopter Combat Support Squadrons. Here, RH-3A 147140/'13/HT' of HC-4 streams a Mk 101 cutter array in 1970.
An MH-53E from HM-12 trails the Mk 105 hydrofoil sled to trigger magnetic influence mines.
The MH-53E gave AMCM squadrons endurance and power. Here, HM-14 Sea Dragon 163070/'547/BJ' deploys an AN/AQS-14 mine hunting sonar.
Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon
Twelve S-80M-1s built for Japan - exemplified here by 51-8623 - were essentially identical to US Navy MH-53Es and are operated by the JMSDF’s 111 Kokutai at Shimofusa.
Sikorsky's S-60 piston-engined Skycrane N807 with a palletised sweep rig was evaluated as a minesweeper in 1960.