Cold War could Turn into Wet War if U.S. Navy Dolphins Deploy to Black Sea

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Dolphin at Point Loma, CA. navy facility (AP photo)

Only two nations in the world use dolphins for military purposes—the United States and Russia—and this summer the two sides may wind up bottlenose to bottlenose in the Black Sea.


A news report out of Russia says the U.S. Navy plans to deploy its specially trained dolphins to the Black Sea during the summer months.


The Izvestia story quoted an American official, Tom LaPuzza with the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program, as saying 20 U.S. dolphins and 10 sea lions will travel from their home base in San Diego, California, to spend up to two weeks participating in NATO military exercises scheduled for the Black Sea.


There, the American-trained dolphins could encounter Russia’s newly-owned military dolphins, which belonged to Ukraine until the Sevastopol dolphin training center in Crimea was annexed along with the rest of the region.


The American dolphins will reportedly be testing a new anti-radar system designed to disrupt enemy sonar. They may even try out a new kind of armor developed for dolphins at the University of Hawaii.


That’s assuming the Izvestia story is accurate.


NBC News apparently followed up on the report and was told by U.S. naval officials that there was no basis to the story—largely because LaPuzza, who used to work as a spokesman for the program, has been gone for some years now.


The network story added that it had been unable to track down LaPuzza or verify the claims in the Izvestia article.


The Navy’s Mammal Program, which has weathered controversy since its inception in 1960, will reportedly come to an end in 2017, at which time the sea mammals are to be replaced by robots, such as the mine-tracking Knifefish, developed by General Dynamics and Bluefin Robotics.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Russian and American Military Dolphins Might Face Off This Summer (by Polly Mosendz, The Wire)

U.S. Sends Combat the Black Sea Dolphins (by Arseny Poghosyan, Izvestia)

The Dolphins of War  (Dive International Publishing)

Navy Dolphins Near Coronado Find Torpedo—from the 19th Century (by Ken Broder, AllGov)

Military Dolphins Get Walking Papers as Drones Take Their Jobs (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Kevin 5 years ago
"anti-radar system designed to disrupt enemy sonar" That statement makes exactly zero sense. Radar and sonar are two completely different things. That's like saying "I can't smell the bacon because the sky is blue."

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