Russia uses military dolphins to protect Ukrainian naval base in Black Sea – Reuters

Satellite photos show that Russia has placed trained dolphins at the entrance to a key Black Sea port. The move could be aimed at protecting a major Kremlin naval base, according to a naval analyst.

Images provided to The Washington Post by Maxar Technologies show two dolphin enclosures at the entrance to the port of Sevastopol in Crimea, which Russian forces annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

hello SuttonAn underwater analyst who first reported on the dolphins for the US Naval Institute on Wednesday said the enclosures were moved there in February, around the time of the invasion of Ukraine.

He said the dolphins could be used to counter Ukrainian specialist divers trying to enter the port to sabotage Russian warships, for which he said the United States and Russia had already trained groups of marine mammals.

In an email to The Post, a spokesman for Maxar Technologies agreed with Sutton’s analysis and explanation of the dolphin enclosures recently taken over by their companions.

Some Russian warships are based in the port of Sevastopol, out of range of Ukrainian missiles. The warship Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, sank this month after being hit by two Ukrainian missiles, dealing a severe blow to Russia’s naval capability, U.S. and Ukrainian officials said.

Since the 1960s, the US Navy has been training dolphins and sea lions to defend themselves against underwater hazards. According to marine experts, dolphins have the most advanced sonar known to science, allowing them to relatively easily detect mines and other potentially dangerous objects on the ocean floor that are difficult to detect with electronic sonar.

The U.S. Navy’s San Diego-based marine mammal training program was declassified in the 1990s, making it easier for officials to counter animal rights activists’ insistence that mammals are being used as offensive weapons, a myth popularized by the 1973 science fiction film of the year. “Dolphin Day”, in which a scientist teaches dolphins to communicate with people. . In the film, the dolphins were kidnapped with the intention of using them in a political assassination plot.

Russia reportedly used the Sevastopol base during the Soviet era to train dolphins for military purposes, such as planting explosives on ships or finding mines. Whether they were ever used for military operations is debatable. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Sevastopol center was used by Ukraine to prepare dolphins for therapy sessions. Russia has resumed military sea mammal training after seizing control of the port city in 2014, the Moscow Times reported at the time.

In 2019, a white whale in a harness surfaced in Norway, according to media reports, prompting local marine experts to speculate they may have encountered the mammal that was part of a Russian naval training program. Locals nicknamed the whale “Hvaldimir” – a combination of the Norwegian word for “whale” and the name of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Paulina Villegas contributed to this report.

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