DSP - What Are Limpet Mines?


U.S. Navy SEAL combat swimmers place a MK-1 Limpet mine onto a target.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The New York Times has reported that earlier this week, there were "explosions on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman".

A surveillance video has been released showing that Iranians had taken off "a limpet mine from one of the ships".

But what is a limpet mine?

The limpet mine has existed since around World War II and have been used by United States Navy Seals.

It is generally physically put on by a swimmer and it sticks to its target. This sticking gives it its name, the "limpet" which is named after a type of shellfish. The mine has a type of explosive that goes off on a time delay.

Instead of sinking ships, a limpet mine is used to immobilize its target.

So how are ships supposed to defend against a limpet mine?

First, ships have a post for people to watch out for swimmers. When they spot what is most likely a swimmer with a mine, the person who is on this "anti-swimmer watch", drops a fragmentation grenade which will either kill or at least wound the swimmer. Then, the explosive ordinance disposal, otherwise known as E.O.D., will swim around the ship and check for any mines attached to the ship. It's a dangerous mission, because these mines can explode at any time.

Well, now you know a little bit about the limpet mine! So, the next time you hear that a tanker or other ship was taken immobilized by a limpet mine, you know what is going on.

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