Russia has deployed dolphins to protect its fleet in the Black Sea. Photo: archive
Russia is deployed in the Black Sea two pens of trained dolphins to guard the entrance to the port of Sevastopol in the Crimea, according to the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI), which detected the animals via satellite.
The USNI concluded that satellite images show that the pens were moved to the site at the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. in February to protect the Russian naval base of the Black Sea.
Sevastopol is said to be Russia’s most important maritime base in the Black Sea and possesses ships of high value not in the range of Ukrainian missiles, but weak in entering the submarine and diving operations.
Traditionally, marine mammals are trained by the US and Russian military to assist with underwater and counter-diving operations.
A beluga whale wearing a Russian harness was found off the coast of Norway in 2019. Nickname ‘Hvaldimir’ of the locals, it is believed this whale escaped of the Russian Navy program, according to the BBC.
The U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal Program says dolphins can be trained to “assist security personnel detect and deter unauthorized swimmers and divers which may attempt to harm people, vessels or Navy port facilities ”.
The presence of dolphins in Sevastopol could prevent Ukrainian special operations forces from infiltrating the port. Photo: archive
The presence of trained dolphins in the Black Sea was reported Wednesday on the USNI news portal.
He explained that the Russian Navy placed two dolphin pens at the entrance to the port of Sevastopol, right inside a boardwalk. The pens were moved there in February.
The presence of dolphins in Sevastopol could prevent Ukrainian special operations forces penetrate the harbor under water to sabotage warships.
Satellite images. Russian Navy trained dolphins protect the Black Sea naval base. Photo: Maxar Technologies
The Ukrainians have already sunk two Russian ships, but with missiles.
Inside the port, many high-value Russian Navy ships were arranged outside the range of Ukrainian missiles but is vulnerable to submarine sabotageaccording to satellite photos, USNI explained.
a soviet program
During the Cold War, the Soviet Navy developed several marine mammal programs, including dolphin training in the Black Sea. The unit is based in Kazachya Bukhta, near Sevastopol, where it is still based to this day.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the unit was handed over to the Ukrainian army. Although there have been attempts to keep it working, hardly remained open. With Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the unit is under the control of the Russian Navy. Subsequently, marine mammal programs were expanded and returned to operational service.
It is part of Russia’s broader military reinvestment in marine mammal programs over the past 10 years. This includes the Black Sea Fleet unit and a separate operation in the Arctic.
In the Arctic, the Russian Northern Fleet uses a wide variety of marine mammals. Beluga whales and seals, both with a thick layer of blubber to keep them warm, is better protected against the cold than the bottlenose dolphin used in the Black Sea.
Beluga whale. Photo: archive
The Arctic unit has also become more active in recent years. Now beluga whale pens have also been established in Olenya Guba, the secret naval base of GUGI (Principal Director of Deep Sea Research). The intelligence organization is believed to be responsible for Russia’s military’s major underwater spy assets.
It’s not just the Arctic that has shown signs of increasing use of Russia’s marine mammals. In 2018, the dolphins of the Black Sea Fleet has been deployed for several months at the Russian naval base in the Mediterranean Sea at Tartus, Syria, according to satellite photos. The mobile pens used for that deployment are very similar to those currently in the port of Sevastopol.
It is unclear whether Ukraine has planned any swimmer combat operations against Sevastopol. But naval analysts believe the dolphins they are an effective defense against divers.
Clarín newsroom with information from the US Naval Institute (USNI)