In a news release from the Department of Defense, the Navy announced that it would be using marine mammals to protect Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) in Bangor, Washington. After holding public hearings, NBK command determined that environmental hazards such as man-made noise and pollution would not adversely impact any marine species being utilized for Swimmer Interdiction Security Systems (SISS). The SISS is designed to prevent submerged infiltration of Naval facilities by using both marine mammals in conjunction with small boat patrols.
A Mk 4 Dolphin attaches a marker to a teathered mine simulator. (US Navy Photo)
The Navy’s Marine Mammal Program has been in place since the 1950s and several different programs operate on the west coast. Dolphins and sea lions are used for a variety of tasks including mine hunting, force protection, and object recovery, but the program has explored utilizing marine birds, sharks, and a variety of other pinnipeds and cetaceans. Some ethical objections have arisen over the prospect of the Navy using marine mammals to attack humans, but the Navy staunchly maintains that it has never trained marine mammals for offensive operations.