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Degaussing

Definition Degaussing, in military operations, refers to the process of decreasing or eliminating a remnant magnetic field in naval warfare, typically in a ship’s hull. The purpose is to make a ship less susceptible to magnetic mines and reduce the ship’s magnetic signature. This technique disrupts the magnetic field of the ship, making it less […]

Definition

Degaussing, in military operations, refers to the process of decreasing or eliminating a remnant magnetic field in naval warfare, typically in a ship’s hull. The purpose is to make a ship less susceptible to magnetic mines and reduce the ship’s magnetic signature. This technique disrupts the magnetic field of the ship, making it less detectable to undersea sensors and mines.

Key Takeaways

  1. Degaussing is a process used in naval warfare, primarily as a method to reduce a ship’s magnetic signature. This reduction minimizes the detection by underwater mines or torpedoes that are designed to detect the magnetic fields of ships.
  2. The term comes from the name of the German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, who has made significant contributions to the field of magnetism. Degaussing essentially means to decrease or eliminate a remnant magnetic field, making it applied beyond military usage but also in various electronic devices to reduce magnetic fields.
  3. There are two common methods of degaussing. One is by using hard degaussing, where an electrical cable is fitted around the circumference of the ship and an electrical current is passed through to cancel out the ship’s magnetic field. The other is known as soft degaussing, which involves the use of coils installed on the ship which generate a magnetic field that counteracts the ship’s field. These systems must be calibrated to each ship’s unique magnetic signature.

Importance

Degaussing is a critical term in military operations as it refers to a process of decreasing or eliminating a remnant magnetic field, specifically in naval warfare.

Naval vessels, particularly made from steel, can accumulate a magnetic field which can trigger magnetic mines.

These dangerous underwater explosives detonate upon detecting a change in the magnetic field, deriving from a ship passing over or near them.

Therefore, by degaussing or demagnetizing their own ships, militaries can limit the risk of detonation of such mines, enhancing the safety of their operations at sea.

It is, thus, not only a countermeasure strategy but also a lifesaver for naval crews, making it a significant aspect of marine warfare.

Explanation

Degaussing, a term frequently encountered in military operations, primarily serves the purpose of reducing a vessel’s magnetic signature. This procedure is paramount in the context of defending naval vessels against magnetic mines, a type of naval warfare which became especially prominent during World War II. Magnetic mines, rather than being controlled manually or directed towards a target, are passively waiting for a ship to come close, and are activated by the magnetic field of the steel-bodied ship itself.

Therefore, degaussing, the practice of decreasing or eliminating a remnant magnetic field, is critically instrumental in reducing the risk and susceptibility of naval vessels to these types of mines. To carry out the procedure, large electrical coils are installed around the circumference of the ship. When current is passed through these coils, it generates an opposing magnetic field that neutralizes or significantly reduces the ship’s magnetic signature.

In essence, degaussing renders the ship ‘invisible’ to the sensors of magnetic mines. It’s worth noting that the effectiveness of degaussing can be influenced by geographical changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, therefore, degaussing systems require regular checks and adjustments to maintain their effectiveness. Thus, degaussing is an integral process in ensuring the safety and security of naval vessels and significantly contributes to the success of naval military operations.

Examples of Degaussing

Degaussing, in military operations, typically refers to the process of decreasing or eliminating a magnetic field to prevent detection by magnetic sensors or to safely use sensitive equipment around a magnetic field. Here are three real-world examples:

Naval Ships: Degaussing was first widely used during World War II as a countermeasure against magnetic mines. Naval ships are often degaussed to reduce their magnetic signature, making them less susceptible to magnetic mines or torpedoes. This is performed by passing an electric current through a coil of wire around the ship, creating an opposing magnetic field that neutralizes the ship’s own.

Aircraft: Similar to naval ships, certain military aircraft can be degaussed to reduce their magnetic signature, thereby evading detection by magnetic anomaly detectors, which are commonly employed in anti-submarine warfare.

Dealing with Old Storage Media: In military settings, degaussing is often used to permanently delete data on magnetic storage media, like hard drives, by disrupting the magnetic fields that store the data. This is a common practice when decommissioning old equipment to prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.

Frequently Asked Questions about Degaussing

What is Degaussing?

Degaussing is a process that is used to decrease or eliminate a remnant magnetic field. It was named after the gauss, a unit of magnetism, which in turn was named after Carl Friedrich Gauss. In the context of military operations, degaussing refers to a method employed to prevent the magnetization of a ship to reduce its detectability by magnetometers, sonar and other detection equipment.

Why is Degaussing important in military operations?

Degaussing is important as it helps in reducing the threat of naval mines to military ships. Naval mines can be triggered by the magnetic signature of the ship traveling over them. By decreasing this magnetic signature through degaussing, the risk of detonation is reduced. It also helps make ships less detectable to magnetic anomaly detectors and torpedoes that use magnetic sensors.

How does the Degaussing process work?

The degaussing process involves passing a decreasing alternating current through a degaussing coil or using a degaussing wand or pouch. As the current goes from its maximum value to zero, the magnetic field will also go to zero. This process can be controlled with the use of a degaussing control unit which allows the current to be gradually reduced over time.

Is Degaussing permanent?

No, degaussing is not permanent. Over time, a ship can become magnetized again due to the Earth’s magnetic field or from traveling through magnetic fields created by electrical equipment on board. That’s why ships need to be degaussed on a regular basis to ensure they maintain a low magnetic signature.

Related Military Operation Terms



  • Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA)
  • Military Sealift Command
  • Ship Transfers and Sales
  • Magnetic Fields
  • Electronic Equipment


Sources for More Information

  • United States Navy Official Website: This official website provides detailed explanations on any term related to naval activities, including that of ‘Degaussing’.
  • Naval History and Heritage Command: This site contains extensive records and repository of all naval history, including operations like ‘Degaussing’.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica: This encyclopedia site provides jurisdictions on all sorts of topics, including military operations and terminologies like ‘Degaussing’.
  • GlobalSpec: An online portal that offers news, analysis, and insights on various engineering and industrial topics, including degaussing in the military context.

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