The Cube is a container-based modular payload concept that was first launched in 2020 by SH Defence. Today, the Cube portfolio consists in a range of over 300 payloads ranging from propulsion systems to decoy launchers and even search and rescue modules. The latest addition to The Cube ecosystem was unveiled during MAST Med 2020 conference and exhibition that took place in Athens, Greece in 2-4 November 2022: It is a Containerized Mine Laying System which can easily and quickly turn navy ships into mine laying platforms. Naval News met with Peter Liisberg during the event to learn more.
The Cube consists of standard modules that fulfill common demands enabling the reconfiguration of naval vessels from one mission to another in less than 4 hours. It provides a unique multi-mission capability thanks to ready mission bays and equipment installed in standardized 20’ or 40’ Cubes-containers equipped with an adaptor frame, the Flex Frame. The innovative shell is designed to protect the equipment and ensure it is fully reliable and operating seamlessly in both arctic areas and regions with extreme heat. With the Cube system, any Navy can turn (almost) any platform into a multi-mission vessel.
The most important feature of the minelaying module with the containers is that it does not need to be installed necessarily into the interior of the ship, instead the containers can be accommodated on a warship’s flight deck or any open deck with access to the stern, of a ship, even of a non-military one. The ship can deploy between two and four mines per minute, depending on the mine type. Each container can accommodate 20-50 mines depending on type and shape of mine. The Cube is capable of handling all known brands of sea mines and can lay different types of sea mines simultaneously.
The mines are deployed via a multiple container payload set-up, with containers switching position using The Cube’s physical infrastructure, the Skidding System, a handling system consisting of steel tracks and uses hydraulic or electrical power to replace and move around the mission modules allowing continuous operation. The Skidding System can operate in conditions up to Sea State 5, meaning that payloads and deployed capabilities can be switched at sea providing the option to use equipment accommodated in other containers as well.
This is a really flexible and cost-saving modular equipment solution that reconfigure any vessel into a minelayer without costly rebuilding or building new ships for a specific purpose. Therefore, especially small Navies with limited budget, can provide a crisis-response option which is by far less risky than kinetic operations especially if they have few and valuable naval vessels. As Cancian (2022)* points out, minelaying does not cause immediate harm but transfers harm if the other side does not yield. It forces the opponent to choose between highly risky escalation and backing down. Imagine for example a Platform Support Vessel (PSV), a type of ship that is characterized by the rear large open deck, or a frigate or a landing ship with their helicopter flight deck, equipped with the system’s infrastructure and the mine laying containerized system. They can be assets of high value that will pause the opponent’s operations and might provide enough time to defuse the crisis while reduced shipping might influence positively a decision towards the end of a conflict.
*Cancian, Matthew (2022) “An Offensive Minelaying Campaign Against China,” Naval War College Review: Vol. 75: No. 1, Article 6.
SH Defence video on the new Mine laying module: