REPORT: Russia Steps Up Dolphin Patrols To Guard Crimean Naval Base

Matthew Nielsen Contributor
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The Russian Navy is boosting its dolphin patrols around its base in the Black Sea, according to British military intelligence.

Russia has significantly increased the defenses around the port of Sevastopol, including booms and netting at the harbor entrance, and has nearly doubled its marine mammal pens, which are believed to contain bottle-nosed dolphins, British military intelligence reported Friday. The dolphins would likely be used to counter potential underwater sabotage, NPR reported, as many militaries value dolphins for their predatory instincts and trainability.

In April, the Russian naval base at Sevastopol was attacked by three “uncrewed surfaced vessels” which damaged some of the Russian ships in berth, prompting the Russian Government to announce tightened security measures, Politico reported.

Trained marine mammals have seen significant use in the Russian navy. In April 2019, a whale turned up off the coast of Norway wearing a Russian harness across its back, prompting speculation that the whale was a Russian military asset. The Russian dolphin program in the Black Sea is a legacy of the Cold War, having been transferred to Ukraine upon the U.S.S.R.’s dissolution and seized by Russia after its 2014 annexation of Crimea, the United States Naval Institute reported, noting that other Russian programs in the Arctic Sea train Beluga whales and seals. (RELATED: Experts Say This White Whale May Be A Russian Spy)

Andrew Lambert, a professor of naval history, told NPR that dolphins “would be ideal for killing human divers.”

“There is no evidence that they have done this or are trained to do so, but it is probable. Any diver in the harbour at night would be a target,” Lambert told the outlet.