Russian and American Military Dolphins Might Face Off This Summer

Dolphins play, at the Sevastopol State Oceanarium in Sevastopol, Crimea, Sunday, March 30, 2014. Dolphins play, at the Sevastopol State Oceanarium in Sevastopol, Crimea, Sunday, March 30, 2014. Pavel Golovkin/AP

The tense East-West standoff in Ukraine could reach a new level of escalation: underwater. According to a report from the Russian newspaper Izvestia, the United States Navy's marine mammal unit will be deployed to the Black Sea this summer, where American dolphins and sea lions could find themselves nose-to-nose with their Russian counterparts.

The paper reports that according to a statement by Tom LaPuzza, spokesman for the US Navy's marine mammals program, 20 dolphins and 10 sea lions will be in the Black Sea for one-to-two weeks this summer, conducting NATO exercises in a body of water that has traditionally been dominated by the Russian navy.

The dolphins will be testing a new anti-radar system, created to "disorientate enemy sonars", said LaPuzza. While the dolphins are doing that, the sea lions will be trained to "look for mines and naval divers." According to the paper, they also allegedly plan to test out new dolphin armor developed at the University of Hawaii. This will be NATO's first use of militarized sea creatures.  

This trip could also mark the first meeting of Russian and American sea creatures. Russia and the United States are the only countries known to have militarized dolphins at this time. Crimean dolphins, which were owned by Ukraine before Russia recently acquired (well, stole) them, have trained in the Black Sea previously. Since Russia is revamping the Sevastopol dolphin training center, it is extremely likely the Black Sea will be home to both sea creature units at the same time this summer.

The U.S. Navy does not seem particularly concerned with the rival dolphins hanging out, even though the Russian program has been rather secretive about its plans: "We have no official data on the Russian center, and I cannot say how we assess the capabilities of your dolphins," says LaPuzza. The United States dolphins and sea lions might be at a disadvantage, though. The American critters will be traveling several thousand miles from their home base in San Diego, to the naval ship in the Black Sea. The creatures will travel in special baths so they are as comfortable as possible. Dolphins (probably) don't get jet lag, but a several thousand mile trip will certainly be an adjustment. LaPuzza does note that "there is no cause for concern" in regards to the sea creatures travels, "as they are protected by the law on the protection of marine mammals."

The U.S. creatures will also have to adjust to the new waters. The Black Sea has a salinity of about 17 percent, whereas the Pacific Ocean, regular home to the US dolphins, has a salinity of 35 percent. Additionally, the water temperature will be an adjustment. The Navy did not address whether the salinity or temperature will affect the sea lions and dolphins abilities to perform exercises. If the Russian and American dolphins do meet, at least NATO will be there to keep the peace. Unless, of course, the mammals decide to join forces and form their own navy instead.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.