How Effective Would Mining the Straits of Hormuz be for Iran?
In a word, very.
Sometimes in life, it is always the simpler things that actually cause the greatest chore or effort to deal with. Take, restoring an old car. A simple thing like maybe removing a key bolt or part becomes the greatest pain in the ass and consumes hours of time, when it should have taken not more than 30 minutes-why? Well, with old cars, it is usually rust.
The situation is the Straits of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf is much like that. Iran does not even have to provoke the US with direct attacks with their swarming high speed boats armed with a few anti-ship missiles, or use their small anti-ship submarines, or their supersonic anti-missiles should Israel or US attack their nuclear weapon sites. All they need to do is use the passive approach to war with their 5000 mines.
Think of the scenario. The US has only a few ships actually there: CV Vinson, Cruiser Bunker-Hill, two nuclear attack subs, four minesweepers and patrol ships. That is it. If Iran were to mine the Straits (only a few miles wide) even before hostilities, this action would bait either country to take action against Iran. If nothing was done, Iran would continue mining this small passageway. If action was taken that spread to conflict, then, Iran has a real excuse to respond more so.
The sum of all this is that, unless the US ships retreated out of the Gulf and south of the Straits, they would be trapped by the mines. These mines range from those that float on the surface and those that sink and are detonated by sound or remotely. The latter are more sophisticated Russian and Chinese mines. The floater mines are quick to spread and flow with the tides and currents unless anchored. By themselves, they are enough to halt all ship movement through the Straits.
The worse part of this passive Iranian strategy is time. When Iran last mined the Straits in 1991 with only 1300 mines, it took a full year (yes, you heard me right) to clear it completely. Any transit during that time was at a snail's pace and dangerous for oil tankers.
Think of the impact if Iran used even only half now, 2500. Think of the impact if all 5000 were used! With only four minesweepers there, the process would be a very long, tedious one, assuming Iran does nothing more in the way of hostilities, which is doubtful. One can see Iran easily destroying the minesweepers with their anti-ship missiles, then, US retaliation, then Iran retaliates and so it goes. Meanwhile, no oil tankers would move oil through it, the price at the pump would easily hit $6-7 a gallon, this puts Obama in real jeopardy for re-election. Meanwhile, Iran continues fairly immune to attacks on their nuclear weapon sites.
Iran has many Chinese-built EM-52 mines, designed to wait on the bottom, listening for the distinctive magnetic or acoustic signature of a particular ship before launching a propelled 660-pound warhead at the target. Other Iranian mines have microcomputers that can sense a target approaching, identify the target, take countermeasures to avoid being detected (turning off) and then calculate the best moment to attack as it passes. While the stockpile numbers are much smaller, Iran has plenty of the floaters which cost about $1000-1500 to make.
With just the use of mines, Iran could cause the World major problems while avoiding real destruction or life. They could even heavily influence the US election.
I am surprised they have not yet done this. Go figure. Well, it might be themselves, you see, 90% of their imports and exports also arrive through this critical area..
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