USS Scout (MCM-8)
Mine Countermeasures Vessel
Commissioned in 1990, USS Scout MCM-8 forms one of the fourteen-strong Avenger-class of mine warfare ships in service with the USN.
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Mine countermeasures is a critically important aspect of naval warfare. For the United States Navy (USN), this role is fulfilled by the Avenger-class series of ships outfitted with special-mission equipment to see the job through. Fourteen ships were originally planned with eleven remaining active as of this writing (2017). One of the group is USS Scout (MCM-8), ordered on August 20th, 1986 and built by Peterson Builders beginning on June 8th, 1987. The USN took ownerships of the vessel on November 27th, 1990 and commissioned it on December 15th of that year. MCM-8 remains in active service as of this writing (2017).
The warship is designed to counter the presence of naval mines and other dangers in contested waters. Such vessels combing the talents of ships like minesweepers and minehunters into a single complete and powerful package with the sole purpose of locating and destroying sea-based mines. USS Scout carried the AN/SLQ-48(V) Mine Neutralization System (MNS) as well as mine-sweeping equipment and a degaussing system. Navigation is through the AN/SSN-2 unit while the AN/SPS-73 fulfilled the surface-search radar function and the AN/SQQ-32 the mine-hunting sonar function.
Aboard is a crew of 81 personnel. Dimensions include a length of 224 feet, a beam of 39 feet and a draught of 12 feet. Power is from 4 x marine diesel units driving a pair of screws by way of shafts under stern. The vessel can reach speeds of up to 14 knots. It displaces 1,260 tons under light loads and 1,370 tons under full loads.
The profile of the warship consists of a singular hull superstructure mounting the bridge section, the main mast and the smoke funnel. The smoke funnel is encased and seated over midships. The aft section of this warship contains much of the physical onboard anti-mine equipment. The stern area has a stepped arrangement when viewing the ship in its side profile.
Because of its operational proximity to volatile mines, USS Scout and her class are purposely outfitted with reduced magnetic signatures and low acoustic readings so as not to activate potential dangers in the water. Several remote-controlled systems are also available to the crew so as to reduce direct exposure to such dangers.
As a mine countermeasures platform is not required to take-on the enemy directly in combat, it is modestly armed solely through machine gun installations. This includes 4 x 12.7mm Browning M2 heavy machine guns on single pintle-style mountings, 2 x 7.62mm M240B medium machine guns on single pintle-style mountings and a twin-gunned M240B installation.
For its career, USS Scout has contributed to several foreign humanitarian initiatives as well as taken part in multiple exercises abroad and at home (Hurricane Katrina). It has seen a bulk of its latest operations take place in Persian Gulf waters while being based out to Manama, Bahrain.