The Russian Navy has deployed trained dolphins to protect a naval base in the Black Sea from potential Ukrainian saboteurs, satellite images allegedly show.
Two dolphin pens were placed at the entrance of Sevastopol Harbor in February, some time around the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to satellite images first reviewed and reported by USNI News. The dolphins are presumably there to conduct anti-diving operations to protect the Russian Navy’s Black Sea fleet.
First found in low-resolution Sentinel 2 imagery
— H I Sutton (@CovertShores) April 27, 2022
Both the United States and Russia have trained sea mammals at various times to conduct anti-diver missions, according to USNI. In this case, the dolphins may be there to prevent Ukrainian special forces from infiltrating the harbor from underwater and sabotaging the ships there.
The satellite images show that the Russian ships inside the harbor are positioned out of the range of Ukrainian missile attacks, leaving them vulnerable only to underwater sabotage. The use of dolphin warfare by Russia dates back to the Cold War, when the Soviet Union developed several marine mammal programs, according to USNI. The Black Sea dolphin unit has long been stationed at Kazachya Buktha, near Sevastopol.
When the Soviet Union fell, the marine mammal unit was reportedly transferred to Ukrainian control, but Russia took it back when it annexed Crimea by force in 2014. Russia has increased investment into the program during the past decade, and has units in both the Black Sea and the Arctic region, according to USNI. There, the Russian Navy uses Beluga whales and seals because they are fat enough to stay warm. (RELATED: ‘His Legs Were Gone’: Canadian Sniper Wali Describes Worst Day Of Fighting In Ukraine)
One of those Belugas is believed to have escaped to northern Norway in 2019, and was named Hvaldimir by locals, according to the BBC. The Black Sea dolphins had previously been deployed to Russia’s naval base in the Mediterranean Sea as part of its operations in Syria, USNI reported.