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Bottom mine

Definition A bottom mine is a type of naval mine designed to rest on the sea floor and detonate when triggered by the presence of a vessel passing above it. It usually uses magnetic, acoustic, or pressure sensors to activate and target ships or submarines. These mines pose a significant risk to naval operations in […]


A bottom mine is a type of naval mine designed to rest on the sea floor and detonate when triggered by the presence of a vessel passing above it. It usually uses magnetic, acoustic, or pressure sensors to activate and target ships or submarines. These mines pose a significant risk to naval operations in strategically important areas, forcing vessels to navigate with caution.

Key Takeaways

  1. Bottom mines are naval explosive devices that are strategically placed on the ocean floor to damage, disable, or destroy enemy ships that pass over or near them.
  2. These mines can be deployed by various methods, including dropping from aircraft, launching from submarines, or being laid by specialized mine-laying ships. They usually remain hidden until activated by the proximity or contact of a target vessel.
  3. Bottom mines have been used extensively in modern warfare, with a significant role in controlling sea routes and coastal zones. They pose a significant threat to both military and civilian vessels, requiring specialized teams and equipment for clearance operations.


The term “bottom mine” holds significant importance within military operations due to its strategic use in naval warfare.

Bottom mines are a type of naval mine designed to sit on the seabed, often concealed by mud or sediment, waiting for an enemy vessel to come within its proximity.

When triggered by a ship passing nearby, the bottom mine detonates, causing damage or destruction to the vessel, impairing its functionality, and potentially resulting in loss of life.

These mines play a crucial role in controlling enemy movement in strategically important waterways, denying access to crucial areas, and safeguarding key resources or territories.

Consequently, understanding and managing bottom mine threats greatly influences the planning and success of naval operations.


Bottom mines, as a component of naval warfare, are strategically designed to serve the purpose of denying access or posing a significant threat to hostile vessels, protecting territorial waters, and securing key chokepoints or restricted waterways. These powerful, underwater explosive devices are placed on the seabed which makes them difficult to detect.

They can fulfill a variety of objectives such as safeguarding valuable marine assets, hampering enemy’s logistical supply, or delimiting an adversary’s navigational freedom. In addition, bottom mines play a vital role in enhancing naval force protection and preserving maritime security by creating a deterrent effect, forcing adversaries to expend valuable time and resources to clear them in order to ensure safe passage.

To achieve these purposes, bottom mines utilize a combination of mechanisms and sensors to detect nearby vessels. This includes acoustic, magnetic, pressure, and seismic sensors that, when triggered by the presence of a ship, can initiate detonation.

Though predominantly targeting military and naval vessels, bottom mines can also inadvertently pose risks for commercial shipping channels and civilian maritime navigation. These unintentional consequences make it essential for nations to incorporate defensive countermeasures, such as deploying mine countermeasure vessels (MCMVs) or utilizing advanced technologies like sonars and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to locate and neutralize mines in a safe and effective manner.

Examples of Bottom mine

A bottom mine refers to a naval mine that is positioned on the ocean floor and is designed to damage or destroy enemy ships that pass nearby. Here are three real-world examples of bottom mine usage in military operations:

North Sea Mine Barrage (1917-1919): During World War I, the United States and the United Kingdom laid over 50,000 bottom mines in the North Sea, specifically in the area between Scotland and Norway. This massive minefield, known as the North Sea Mine Barrage, was intended to limit the movement of German U-boats and disrupt their access to the Atlantic Ocean. The mine barrage damaged or sank several German submarines and ships causing significant disruption in their naval operations.

Operation Starvation (1945): During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) conducted a large-scale mining operation known as Operation Starvation against Japan. The USAAF used B-29 bombers to lay bottom mines in an attempt to disrupt Japanese shipping and maritime activities in and around the Japanese home islands. These mines were responsible for the sinking or damaging of a significant portion of Japanese shipping, contributing to the eventual defeat of Japan in World War II.

Iran-Iraq War – Persian Gulf (1980-1988): During the Iran-Iraq War, both Iraq and Iran extensively used bottom mines in the Persian Gulf to disrupt each other’s shipping and naval operations. The mine warfare in the region became particularly intense when the countries began targeting international shipping, including oil tankers, leading to a decrease in maritime traffic in the region. Many mines laid during this conflict still pose a threat to navigation in the Persian Gulf today, despite efforts to clear them.

FAQ: Bottom Mine

1. What is a bottom mine?

A bottom mine is an underwater weapon that is designed to either rest on or be concealed beneath the seabed. They are typically used to target and destroy naval vessels such as ships and submarines when they pass through a mined area.

2. How do bottom mines work?

Bottom mines use a variety of sensors and activation mechanisms to detect the presence of nearby ships or submarines. When a vessel comes within a certain range, the mine’s sensors pick up its presence, triggering the mine to detonate and cause damage or destruction to the target.

3. What is the purpose of a bottom mine in military operations?

Bottom mines serve as strategic naval weapons to protect territorial waters and key maritime routes. They are used to deter enemy naval forces, restrict access to specific areas, and impede or disrupt the movement of hostile vessels. Additionally, bottom mines can provide a cost-effective means of naval defense, as they require less personnel and resources than other maritime assets.

4. Are there different types of bottom mines?

Yes, there are several types of bottom mines, including contact mines, influence mines, and mobile mines. Contact mines can either rest on the seabed or be moored to the bottom at a certain depth, with a trigger mechanism that detonates upon physical contact with a vessel. Influence mines use acoustic, magnetic, or pressure sensors to detect nearby ships and submarines, detonating when they come within range. Mobile mines can self-propel to a predetermined location and then station themselves on the seabed.

5. How are bottom mines deployed and removed?

Bottom mines can be deployed using minelaying ships, submarines, or aircraft. They are generally placed in strategic locations to maximize their effectiveness in disrupting enemy naval operations. To remove bottom mines, specialized mine countermeasure vessels use sonar and other underwater detection systems to locate them, then employ remotely operated vehicles or divers to neutralize the mines or safely recover them for disposal.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Underwater explosive devices
  • Mine countermeasures
  • Mine warfare
  • Mine detection and clearance
  • Naval minesweeping

Sources for More Information

  • Naval Surface Warfare Center – Official U.S. Navy resource for information on naval mine engineering and development. Homepage URL: https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NSWC-Carderock/Resources/Naval-Mine-Engineering-Facility/
  • Jane’s Navy International – Widely respected and authoritative source on naval and maritime topics, including bottom mines. Homepage URL: https://www.janes.com/defence/navy
  • United States Naval Institute – Independent, non-profit, professional military association that publishes information related to naval forces, including bottom mines. Homepage URL: https://www.usni.org/
  • U.S. Navy – Official website of the United States Navy with resources on naval mine warfare and relevant topics. Homepage URL: http://www.navy.mil/

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