07 Desember 2009

US Navy Uses Dolphins to ‘Sniff’ for Mines

7 Desember 2009

Dolphin with mine marker (photo : Defense Industry Daily)

Just as the dog’s keen sense of smell makes it well suited to detect land mines, so the US Navy has found that the biological sonar of dolphins, called echolocation, makes them effective at locating and marking sea mines.

To take advantage of these skills, the Navy Marine Mammal Program studies, trains, and deploys dolphins, as well as sea lions, to carry out various underwater tasks for the Navy.
As part of the program, the Fleet’s Marine Mammal Systems (MMS) use dolphins and sea lions to find and mark the location of underwater objects…
Sea Lion patrols under pier (Defense Industry Daily)

The mammals perform mine hunting and marking, force protection, and object recovery tasks under the MMS.

There are 5 MMS and they are designated by the letters MK.

MK 4, MK 7, and MK 8 use dolphins, MK 5 uses sea lions, and MK 6 uses both sea lions and dolphins.

MK 4 – dolphins are used for detecting and marking the location of sea mines that are tethered off the ocean bottom. MK 4 offers mine detection, classification, and marking capabilities in areas that are highly cluttered or where rough seabed, high marine growth, and other complex acoustic conditions hamper the performance of Navy hardware systems.

MK 7 – dolphins are trained to detect and mark the location of mines sitting on the ocean bottom or buried in sediment. The dolphins are sent out after the first troops have gone into the area and help to clear a wider path of safety for additional troops and equipment.

MK 8 – a human/dolphin team that allows troops to identify safe corridors for the initial landing of troops ashore. MK 8 operates with a low profile in shallow water.

MK 5 – sea lions are used to provide an inexpensive method to recover submerged objects. The sea lions’ speed and agility allow them to recover objects much quicker than the mechanical options.

MK 6 – dolphins and sea lions are used to protect piers, ships, harbors, and anchorages against unauthorized swimmers, SCUBA divers, closed-circuit divers, swimmer delivery vehicles, and suspicious objects near piers and ships.

Dolphin on patrol (photo : Defense Industry Daily)

These human/ animal teams can be deployed within 72 hours of notice and can be transported by ship, aircraft, helicopter, and land vehicles to potential regional conflict or staging areas all over the world. They regularly participate in major Fleet exercises.

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