Recently, the Ukrainian navy announced they were training dolphins to attack enemy swimmers and detect mines. While a militarized dolphin cruising around Sevastopol may seem a bit odd, it’s actually not the first time.
The Soviet Navy trained dolphins in the early 1970s to detect mines, enemy submarines, and even to attack and kill unauthorized swimmers around its naval bases. When the Soviet Union split up and Russia and her former empire were splitting up assets held in other countries, the Black Sea Fleet’s base at Sevastopol was no exception. The Ukraine received the dolphin training section, however they could not afford to maintain it at the level it was at under Soviet management. Instead, Ukrainian officials used the dolphins it could keep to work with children and for other pacifist reasons.
Now times are better in the former Soviet republic, and they are re-instituting their war dolphin program.
Incidentally, the Ukraine is not alone. The US Navy has a military dolphin program with about 75 dolphins and some sea lions. Based in San Diego, the US program has the same goals as the Soviet and, now, Ukrainian programs. In fact, the US deployed dolphins during the Gulf Wars to locate mines for clearing in the waters around Iraq.
Why dolphins and not sharks with laser beams on their heads? Dolphins are smart and very trainable, and they are much more even tempered than sharks. Also, if an enemy ship or submarine picked them up on sonar, they would just dismiss them as dolphins and not as enemy combatants.
[Image Credit: Public Domain]