Russians Seize Ukraine's Military Dolphins

RealClear Staff


Pictured: An actual military dolphin from the US Navy wearing a locater on its flipper. 

Disaster has struck. According to Russian State Media, the Russian military has seized control of Ukraine’s fleet of combat dolphins.

Wait... Ukraine had a fleet of combat dolphins?

Yes. Apparently it did.

Both the Soviet Union and United States began training dolphins in the 1960s to perform various combat duties. Smart, agile, and capable of locating very small objects with their ultra-sensitive sonar, the dolphins were thought to show potential for finding undersea mines, track down clandestine scuba-divers trying to sneak into ports, and supposedly even sabotage ships with lasers.

The USA still spends around $14 million a year on their dolphin program, but after the Soviet Union collapsed, the USSR’s dolphin program was divided between Russia and Ukraine. In 2000, the Russian Navy sold off their dolphin program to the Iranians, shipping all their dolphins, trainers, and research materials down to the Straits of Hormuz.

Ukraine, however, kept theirs. Based in Sevastopol, the Ukrainian Navy kept on training dolphins. The Ukrainian government claims they mostly kept them around for education purposes, like working with disabled children. In 2005, though, the Russian media went wild with reports that the Ukrainian combat dolphins, armed with both fire arms and knives, had escaped their pens and were now terrorizing the Black Sea.

These reports, shockingly, later turned out to be entirely hoaxed, but the terror they struck into the Russians seems to have given the Ukrainian Navy an idea because in 2011 they restarted their combat dolphin program. Once again, the dolphins were back on active duty, hunting for mines, spies, and maybe—just maybe—training to sabotage Russian navy vessels. Sounds like a joke, right? Ukrainian Dolphins defending Ukraine against the mighty Russian Navy?

Not to the Russian military it seems. In addition to seizing control of Ukraine’s actual naval vessels in Crimea, its gunboats, destroyers, and submarines, they have seized control of Ukraine’s military dolphins. Not only seized control, but announced to the world—in English— via the Russian state-run media agency RIA Novosti that the dolphins are being incorporated into the Russian Navy. The dolphins’ technology is going to be modernized. The program is going to be expanded.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet may not be what it once was. America may have 20 aircraft carriers to their 1. But Russia, now, has their dolphins back. Take heed.



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