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Thales sonars key to Royal Navy minewarfare operations


A Royal Navy minehunter fitted with Thales sonar has located and destroyed a 2,000-pound mine and torpedo lying on the seabed off the port of Tobruk in eastern Libya.

HMS Bangor, a Sandown-class mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV), has been on NATO operations off the Libyan coast, tasked with searching for and disposing of any ordnance to clear a path for merchant shipping. The Sandown class operates with Sonar 2093, the most successful variable-depth multi-mode sonar in its field.

During this operation, Bangor’s advanced sonar - described by the navy as ‘cutting edge’ - successfully detected both the heavily corroded 2,000-pound mine and the torpedo. Bangor was able to destroy both of the weapons using demolition charges dropped by her remotely controlled underwater submersible.

Both munitions were spotted by a mine warfare team working in Bangor’s operations room as they kept a close eye on the data fed to them by the ship’s sonar sensors.

Ops room supervisor, Petty Officer Steve Moss, says: “When we’re mine hunting we have several people watching the screens for any contact. On this task we saw several items that looked about the size of a mine, and two of them turned out to be real. It’s not a regular thing to happen, so we’re really pleased we found them and we were able to destroy them.”

Earlier this summer HMS Brocklesby, a Hunt-class MCMV, has been patrolling off the Libyan coast during the civil war, keeping the sea lanes clear of any mines laid by pro-Government forces. The Hunt fleet is fitted with Thales’s Sonar 2193, the world’s most advanced hull-mounted wideband minehunting sonar.

Brocklesby used her Thales sonar and her mine-disposal system to locate and dispose of a mine that had been placed near the harbour entrance at Misurata. When Brocklesby had finished her tour of duty she handed over responsibility to HMS Bangor.

Phil Naybour, head of Thales UK’s naval business, says: “This latest operation proves yet again that the Royal Navy has the deserved reputation of being a global leader in mine warfare. To have Sonar 2093 playing such a crucial role in this operation only months after Sonar 2193 was involved the detection of live mines is a testament to the world-class capability of the technology.”

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About Thales and Thales UK
Thales is a global technology leader for the defence & security and the aerospace & transport markets. In 2010 the company generated revenues of £11.2 billion (€13.1 billion), with 68,000 employees in 50 countries. With its 22,500 engineers and research¬ers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security requirements. Thales has an excep¬tional international footprint, with operations around the world working with customers as local partners.

Thales UK employs 8,000 staff based at 35 locations. In 2010 Thales UK’s revenues were around £1.5 billion.


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