Dolphin 12 Training Concludes in Montenegro
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2012 – Advancing U.S. European Command’s efforts to build partnerships and partner capacity across the continent, U.S. Navy divers and six bottlenose dolphins wrapped up a month-long exercise yesterday, during which they trained Montenegrin navy divers to locate and clear underwater mines and explosives dating back to World War I.
Dolphin 2012 concluded yesterday in Tivat, Montenegro, with the Navy presenting $70,000 in dive equipment to help their Montenegrin counterparts establish an underwater clearance capability, U.S. Embassy officials reported.
The presentation capped a month of training in the Boka-Kotorska Bay by members of the San Diego-based Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1 and the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.
Using specially trained dolphins from the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program, the participants demonstrated how to identify sea mines or explosive remnants, some that have been on the ocean floor for more than 80 years, officials said.
During the training, the dolphins used their exceptional biological sonar capabilities to locate mine-like objects and mark them with GPS coordinates. At the exercise’s conclusion, the participants presented the Montenegrin government officials a grid listing all objects found and their locations, officials said.
Dolphin 12 was part of a multiyear U.S. program to help Montenegro detect potentially dangerous objects within its waters and build its capacity to rehabilitate areas plagued by remnants of war, officials said.
The effort is being funded by Eucom’s Humanitarian Mine Action Program and the State Department’s Humanitarian Demining Training Center and Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.
Dolphins have an extraordinary sonar capability that surpasses anything human divers or the latest technology developments can provide, officials from the Navy Marine Mammal Program said. The Navy relies on specially trained dolphins as well as sea lions to detect sea mines, that, if not found, could sink ships, destroy landing craft and kill or injure people, program officials explained.
The dolphins used in the training receive two to three years of specialty training before working on underwater security projects. In addition, they are cared for with around-the-clock medical and dental care and enjoy a diet of restaurant-grade fish.
The Navy’s dolphins operate in the open oceans without tethers, and no Navy marine mammal has been a casualty in any hostile conflict, officials reported.
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