The Mineman Saga
Naval Mine Warfare in 2300AD
"Our Naval Reserve Mobile Mine Assembly and Deployment Detachment ( NR MOMAD Det) was sent out from Ellis onboard the USS Boorda to protect our colony at Kie-Yuma. For seven months we remoted most of our stocks of Mark-93's into the likely areas of any Kafer attack fleet. During this time, we heard about the watchpost patrols near Kafer-occupied worlds: pairs of ships that would gather information about Kafer ships and fleet compositions. Many comrades died getting the information on warp signatures, displacements, and maneuverability. We now can use it against them. The nice thing about Mark 93's is that we can program them to fire when the sensor pack receives specific warp signatures, leaving our ships able to safely cruise through the minefield. One thing's for certain: the people who died getting us the data won't die in vain....."
Mine warfare in 2300 consists of the following: assembly of the weapons, deployment of the assembled mines, and minehunting in enemy minefields. In the American fleet, the latter is handled by Reserve Mine Countermeasures Augmentation Detachments ( CMAD dets) assigned to and training on specific ships, and the first two by Reserve Mobile Mine Assembly and Deployment Detachments ( MOMAD dets), who can be assigned to any ship in the fleet with a large enough hold for assembly operations. In the event of mobilization, such as for the Kafer War, the CMAD dets are sent to frontline ships where their training assists in rooting out enemy mines in enemy-held systems. These ships often precede the attacking fleet, allowing them to proceed with a reduced or eliminated mine threat en route to the engagement area. The MOMAD dets are assigned to Reserve Force ships and sent to friendly worlds potentially under threat of attack by enemy fleets, deploying mines in likely areas of the enemy's stutterwarp discharge, or to enemy-held worlds, placing the mines where enemy ships are likely to pass through.
Mine warfare specialist characters can be created in regular character generation, adding the following skills in the SECOND or subsequent terms, when the character is transferred to the Reserve. Or, for those characters who don't wish to join the reserves, active mine warfare specialists who form the training cadre receive the same skills in the FIRST term, as part of the additional skills earned beyond basic Space Military skills:
Each mine warfare specialist ( or MN, from the old wet-navy rating Mineman) is trained in assembly, deployment, and countermeasures at the same time. In the American fleet, this training takes place at either L-4 ( for those leaving active service at Earth, Tirane, or Kie-Yuma) or Boise, near Ellis ( for those leaving active service anywhere in the American Arm: King, Hermes, or Ellis), at the Mine Warfare Central Training Facilities ( CTFs) at those stations. Reservists living on Earth or Ellis spend their weekend drills training at the station nearby, those residing elsewhere report to local Reserve centers for simulator training held by active cadre trainers who travel from their assigned CTF to the outlying worlds on a quarterly basis: for the Ellis remote training cadre, one month will be spent with reservists at Hermes, the other at King's orbiting naval station, and the third back at their home CTF. While each CMAD and MOMAD det's training is primarily focused on their specialty, cross-training is provided, as all aspects of mine warfare are covered in the advancement tests.
During the two-week annual training, each CMAD and MOMAD deploy on their assigned ships for bi-annual certification in the vessel's home station, or as part of a larger fleet exercise in other systems. The certification cycles run concurrently: a MOMAD det will be tested on its assembly and deployment skills, while the CMAD det will be tested on how well it finds and neutralizes the mines deployed. Over the years, a sort of rivalry has developed between the MOMAD and CMAD dets based on their certification scores: a MOMAD det scores when its corresponding CMAD det is 'destroyed' by one of its mines before detection. The CMAD det 'wins' when all the mines deployed are accounted for and neutralized before any can 'detonate'.
Currently in the American fleet two types of mines are used. The predominant mine is the Mark 93 "Woomera" captive-missile mine, developed jointly by America's Trilon Industries and Australia's DUNARMCO. With a 900,000 km kill radius, this employs a missile with a nuclear warhead cased in an automatic launcher. When a ship matching the type programmed into the mine's sensor pack is detected, the missile is launched at it, aiming for the warmest part of the vessel's surface. Often, Mk 93's are grouped together to create 'kill zones', where several missiles launch at the same target at once, often overtasking the defensive systems of the victim ship. During the certification cycles, actual mines are used; the sensor packs are programmed to send a message drone instead of the missile when the mine is detonated or discovered. In the fifty years of the Mk 93's use there hasn't been an accidental firing of a live round in either the American or Australian fleets during training exercises, and none until the Kafer War has been used in actual battle.
The other mine in the American inventory is the Mark 97 "Starburst" exploding mine. As its nomenclature implies, this mine simply explodes when it's sensor pack detects a target vessel. These mines are often placed in oort clouds surrounding systems to be defended, or in asteroid belts, among other space debris, or anywhere else that can mask the presence of these mines. With a shorter range than the Woomera, these mines were a recent innovation, coming about as a result of the initial Aurore battles with the Kafers. As they were less expensive and easier to produce, thousands were built and sent to MOMAD dets for crash training during the initial mobilization for the Kafer War. Those dets that did receive Mk 97's were attached to front-line ships in all of the allied navies, particularly those of Australia, Canada, and Japan, working with their allied counterparts in assembly and deployment. The MOMAD dets were loaned to those ships on the same basis as the American Marines elsewhere, as American mine warfare specialists have earned a reputation as the best in Human Space.