Mines, Mines, Mines
While today seagoing mine warfare is frequently neglected, at least in the West, it was a staple of naval technology from the sinking of the USS Cairo on the Yazoo River to the more current antics in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Sure, sure, there are still half-hearted regular drills to airdrop mines in addition to MCM activities of all stripes, especially by the “small navies” of NATO, but dedicated minelaying vessels have long ago fallen out of fancy in the U.S. and Royal Navy.
Which makes this circa 1976 training doc (Admiralty catalog no. A2788) on RN minelaying, filmed on the “exercise minelayer” HMS Abdiel (N21)*, extremely interesting.
*As a side, when Abdiel was paid off in 1988, Ian Stewart, Secretary of State for Defence, commented in the House of Commons:
We have not felt it necessary to have a specialist replacement ship for mine laying, because mines can be laid by a wide variety of vessels. They can be laid by submarines, offshore patrol vessels, Royal Maritime auxiliary vessels, Royal Fleet auxiliaries, and aircraft. The task can be done by any suitably modified vessel at short notice. We do not regard it as cost-effective to have a specialist ship for that replacement.