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Ukraine navy to deploy DOLPHINS WITH GUNS ON THEIR HEADS

Sharks? Lasers? Pshaw. Let's get realistic

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The Ukrainian navy is to deploy specially trained dolphins equipped with "pistols fixed to their heads" against possible enemy frogmen, according to reports.

Russian newswire RIA Novosti broke the news last week, reporting from the naval base of Sevastopol on the Black Sea. This was formerly home to the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, which was acrimoniously divvied up between Russia and the new Ukrainian government on the fall of the Soviet Union.

One of the bits which the Ukrainians got, according to the RIA Novosti report, was the dolphin squadron - one of only two in the world (the other is run by the US Navy). Funds being short and war dolphins not being a very high priority, it seems that the combat cetaceans have mainly been employed on civilian taskings since then - for instance working with handicapped children.

But now it seems that Flipper-ski has heard the bugle call of battle once more and that the Black Sea dolphin school will once more turn out marine mammals trained for warlike missions including the finding of enemy mines, perhaps the delivery of limpet devices against enemy vessels, and - the headliner - fighting enemy frogmen.

RIA Novosti tells us:

The killer-dolphins will be trained to attack enemy combat swimmers using special knives or pistols fixed to their heads

Several exercises have reportedly already been carried out. ®

Bootnote

The term "pistol" when used in reference to underwater weaponry often means a device triggered by contact with the target, as opposed to a handgun. For instance a torpedo may have an impact pistol mounted on its nose to detonate the warhead when it hits something.

It's likely that this is the type of pistol being referred to here, and that the Ukrainian dolphins of death will not be required to learn how to shoot ranged weapons such as the Heckler and Koch P-11 or one of its Soviet/Russian equivalents by pointing their heads. Rather they will simply ram their enemies, which is one of their natural and highly effective tactics when fighting underwater (for instance against sharks).

A sufficiently angry dolphin would surely be a dangerous opponent for a diver, but in general they are completely friendly to humans - and they have always responded erratically at best to efforts to turn them into lethal war machines. Your correspondent has operated alongside US Navy Marine Mammal detachments in the past, and judging by their results on minehunting tasks it appeared that the dolphins may not have been taking the whole business entirely seriously.

Lewis Page was a diving officer in the Royal Navy from 1997 to 2004.

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