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Contact mine

Definition A contact mine is a type of naval weapon used in warfare. It is designed to explode upon direct contact with a vessel or submarine. These mines typically float on or just below the surface of the water, making them a threat to any ship that passes by. Key Takeaways Contact mines are naval […]


A contact mine is a type of naval weapon used in warfare. It is designed to explode upon direct contact with a vessel or submarine. These mines typically float on or just below the surface of the water, making them a threat to any ship that passes by.

Key Takeaways

  1. Contact mines are naval explosive devices that explode upon physical contact by a vessel. They are widely used due to their effectiveness in destroying targets quickly and with significant damage.
  2. These mines are generally spherical, often equipped with multiple detonators, or ‘horns’, sticking out of their surface. Any pressure applied to these horns can trigger the detonation.
  3. Originally designed for anti-ship warfare, contact mines have now evolved to be able to target submarines and in some circumstances, they can be used against land targets. However, one major disadvantage is their potential indiscriminate nature as they pose a risk to both enemy and friendly vessels.


The term “Contact Mine” is significant in military operations as it communicates a specific type of naval explosive device that detonates upon physical contact.

These mines are typically placed beneath the water surface and are invisible to the naked eye, representing a considerable threat to any naval vessels in the area.

The significance of contact mines lies in their simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and their ability to significantly disrupt naval operations and sea lines of communication.

They pose a serious risk to both military and civilian vessels, making their detection and clearance a critical aspect of naval defense and maritime security efforts.


A contact mine serves as a strategic, offensive tool in naval warfare, created to deter enemy territories and impede their advances. It serves to guard strategic areas such as coasts, sea lanes, and ports against enemy advances. Contact mines operate passively, meaning that they wait for a target to trigger them rather than actively seeking targets.

They are typically laid in areas that submarines, ships, or other naval vessels will likely navigate through. Once they come into contact with a passing ship or submarine, they will detonate causing significant damage or even the destruction of a vessel. Furthermore, the contact mine has a great psychological impact in warfare as it introduces a layer of unpredictability into enemy strategies.

The not knowing of where a mine might be placed adds increased risk for crossing certain territories, and thus, forcing the enemy to change tactics or use resources to clear the mines. This underlines the strategic nature of a contact mine, which is to create obstacles and complications for the enemy beyond just physical damage. Their presence alone can effectively disrupt the enemy’s operations and command a significant influence over their war strategies.

Examples of Contact mine

Operation Starvation (World War II): This military operation by the US against Japan in 1945 was largely characterized by the use of contact mines. The US dropped over 12,000 mines in various water channels and harbors; they were designed to detonate upon direct contact with Japanese vessels, causing a significant disruption in Japan’s maritime supply and transportation lines.

The North Sea Mine Barrage (World War I): This was a major operation carried out by the United States Navy and the Royal Navy in 1918 aimed at restricting the movement of German U-boats from their bases to the Atlantic Ocean. The barrage consisted of large numbers of contact mines laid across the North Sea.

Sinking of USS Samuel B. Roberts (Iran-Iraq War): During the Iran–Iraq War in the late 20th century, the frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts hit a contact mine in the Persian Gulf in

The mine, laid by Iran, detonated on contact with the ship’s hull and caused significant damage. This is a prime example of how contact mines have been used in more modern conflicts.

FAQs on Contact Mine

What is a Contact Mine?

A contact mine is a type of naval explosive device that detonates upon direct contact with a target. The mines are generally spherical and contain a high explosive charge that serves to damage or destroy enemy ships that collide with them.

How does a Contact Mine work?

A contact mine works by using a triggering mechanism that is activated by the physical impact of a ship or submarine. The mechanism triggers the detonator which then ignites the main explosive charge, resulting in a powerful blast.

Where are Contact Mines typically used?

Contact mines are typically used in defensive naval operations and in the creation of minefields. They can be laid in both shallow and deep waters, often in strategic locations like harbors, sea lanes, or chokepoints to obstruct enemy movements.

What are the risks associated with using Contact Mines?

While effective, contact mines carry significant risks. They are indiscriminate weapons, posing a threat to any vessel that makes contact, including those of friendly or neutral parties. Mines that remain undetonated can also pose a hazard long after conflicts end, risking civilian lives and causing environmental harm.

Are Contact Mines still used today?

Modern naval warfare has largely moved away from the use of contact mines due to the aforementioned risks and the evolution of more precise and reliable weapons. However, in some parts of the world, legacy contact mines from previous conflicts still remain, posing ongoing challenges for maritime safety and environmental conservation.

Related Military Operation Terms

I’m sorry for the confusion, but “Contact mine” does not appear to be related to VA benefits, which typically involves terms related to healthcare, education, disability compensation, and other similar subject matter. If you’re looking for terms related to VA benefits, I would be more than happy to provide them. However, please provide more details or clarification so I can give you the most accurate assistance.

Sources for More Information

  • Naval Technology: An online defense magazine with articles covering a range of topics including military equipment and strategies.
  • Defense News: A global website and magazine about the politics, business and technology of defense.
  • Military.com: A free online community for military members, veterans and their families, offering news, veteran jobs, and information about the military benefits.
  • Naval History and Heritage Command: It is a part of the Department of the Navy, providing comprehensive resources about naval history.

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