US Navy trials MCM mission package on ESB vessel
The US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship Mine Countermeasure (MCM) mission package has been trialled on Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) ship, USNS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams.
In a three day test programme carried out in the Chesapeake Bay, the vessel used the MCM’s portable control station to manoeuvre MCM equipment and launch and recovery equipment, as well as to test the command and control of unmanned vehicles.
The demonstration proved the ESB class ships’ ability to serve as an MCM-capable platform to embark 12 20ft equivalent units, vehicles, and the support equipment required to operate, launch, and recover one full MCM mission package, including the buried mine hunting and unmanned sweeping mission modules, with flexible ship modifications.
Initial assessments showed positive results and will help inform the feasibility of integration on ESB, as well as other vessels of opportunity. This integration demonstration represents the potential to provide increased agility to US Navy forces as they respond to the growing complexity of sea-mines while shifting to a broad-spectrum cross-domain, expeditionary approach.
Capt David Gray, USNS Hershel Woody Williams officer in charge, said: ‘Considering the contested environments which our ships sail in, counter-mine capabilities are very important because we have to be able to keep the enemy at bay.
‘Mines of today are very inexpensive to make. Our adversaries can produce mines for a few hundred dollars and inflict a tremendous loss of life while causing millions of dollars of damage. So we need the assets out there to detect and destroy these threats ahead of time, and keep the world’s shipping lanes open.’
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