Russia has deployed trained military dolphins at its Black Sea naval base in Crimea to thwart Ukrainian underwater attacks, USNI News reported, citing satellite images.
According to the outlet, two dolphin pens were moved to the entrance of Sevastopol harbor in February, which houses Russian naval bases and the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet.
The Sevastopol naval base houses several Russian ships beyond the range of Ukrainian missiles but is vulnerable to undersea sabotage, the outlet reported.
Two Sea Mammal Training Programs
Military dolphins are trained to execute counter-diver operations to protect naval assets such as ships and ports.
According to USNI News, many sea mammal military training programs were operational during the Soviet era. Two such facilities continue to operate at Kazachya Bukhta near Sevastopol and in the Arctic.
While the Sevastopol facility houses bottlenose dolphins, the Arctic facility trains beluga whales and seals.
Training Facility Acquired From Ukraine
According to The Moscow Times, Russia acquired the Akvamarin Sevastopol facility from Ukraine following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The Russian Navy restarted military training at the facility, which had been used for non-military purposes under Ukrainian control such as “training dolphins to swim with special needs children and be used in therapy sessions.”
Restarted Military Program
Russian engineers fashioned a program to help train the dolphins and the seals at the facility “to find sunken objects and enemies underwater using sonar.”
The Moscow Times wrote that the navy denied reports that the animals were being trained to kill intruders using knives or pistols attached to their heads, but revealed that during the Soviet era the dolphins did undergo training to plant explosives on vessels.