One day in the first half of 1960's in sunny Florida, yachtsmen and shipowners unexpectedly found strange objects on their yachts and boats, which turned out to be sabotage mines. This was the result of the first exercise conducted by a special CIA group near Key West Island using specially trained dolphin-demolition men. Well, that mines were training.
But you could be the first ...
The leadership of the special division of the CIA considered that the task assigned to the “dolphins” recruited for military service was fairly simple and easily accomplished for animals with such a high level of brain activity. Take a special sabotage mine from the base, go to the designated area of the operation and attach the mines to the bottoms of warships. After that, the dolphins were supposed to return to base.
But everything is well planned and colorfully looks on paper, real life often presents very unpleasant surprises. Especially if you are dealing with "inhuman" fighters. So it happened this time - smart "tailed soldiers", by their nature, feeding high affection for man, laid mines for everything. As a result, for the next few weeks, the Pentagon and Langley explained to the yachtsmen and shipowners who were at the wrong time at the wrong time.
But everything could be different. Our Navy could easily create a biotechnical combat system with military-trained marine animals. In the funds of the Central State Archive of the Russian Navy there is a case entitled “About seals. The proposal of Mr. Durov to use trained animals for naval purposes. " Yes, yes, that same grandfather Durov proposed to use seals at sea against German warships during the First World War. The sabotage action prevented - almost all the seals prepared for combat operations were poisoned. And then in Russia there was a revolution.
So the first detachments of "sea animals in uniform" appeared at the Pentagon. During the Vietnam War, they were first used in combat conditions. According to unofficial data, during the defense of the Cam Ranh naval base, at least 50 underwater reconnaissance and saboteurs were destroyed during the defense of the Kamran naval base.
The Soviet fleet began working with marine animals only in 1967. By the time work in the United States were already in full swing. All organizations were subordinated to the newly created Naval Undersea Center underwater warfare center headquartered in San Diego. And in 1968, a special service for lifting items from the bottom was created and successfully operated in the US Navy. For this purpose, used marine mammals. In particular, dolphins were trained to search and label items lying on the seabed. From 1969, sea lions began to be trained on this topic - as a cheaper option than dolphins.
Scientists in the service of the military
“Cetaceans can be useful when searching for warheads of missiles, satellites and everything else that man’s efforts repeatedly crash into the ocean from the sky,” said famous American neurophysiologist John Cunningham Lilly, at a seminar specially organized for high-ranking Pentagon employees, 1958. - They, for example, can be trained to search for mines, torpedoes, submarines and other objects invented by man for naval operations ... They can be trained in reconnaissance and patrol service in ships and submarines, they can also be transported to different places and used in the harbors as demolition men, to explode submarines, submarine rocket launchers and surface ships with nuclear charges ”.
The theme of the report prepared by Lilly was the results of a study conducted under his leadership and aimed at exploring the potential use of dolphins and certain whales in the interests of the US Navy. Moreover, John Lilly was firmly convinced that individual, the most "intelligent" marine mammals - for example, dolphins - can be used with high efficiency even as a "self-guided weapons against man. " The scientist stressed that specially prepared dolphins can “go into the harbor at night and catch the spies thrown by the enemy with the help of submarines or airplanes”.
Naturally, the American special services and the command of the naval special forces could not help but grasp such an idea. Appropriate orders were issued, and in 1960, a Los Angeles aquarium acquired a Pacific white-sided dolphin, more precisely a dolphin named Notty. She arrived at the disposal of the Naval Ordinance Department of the United States (San Diego) Naval Weapon Test Station (Naval Ordnance Test Station). The first direction of work to which Notti was connected was not sabotage. The developers of the underwater torpedo and rocket weapons were interested in the unique features of the echolocation apparatus and the hydrodynamics of the dolphin. In particular, to improve the hydrodynamic efficiency of movement in the water of torpedoes and rockets. However, it soon became clear that in the framework of the small basin where Notti lived, it was not possible to fully “discover its possibilities”.
A new place was chosen place Point Mugu, California, in the area which was located Pacific Test Site (Pacific Missile Range) and the Naval Missile Test Center (Naval Missile Center). There, in the bay of Mugu, a convenient natural almost closed lagoon, a naval biological station was created. Subsequently, a branch in Hawaii was established in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu Island. In July, the 1962 of the year brought the first three dolphins there and continued the tests, which quickly acquired a special, sabotage and anti-sabotage "coloring". Responsibility for the work was assigned to the department of study of marine fauna of the specified Center (Life Sciences Department). This department was created under the US space program and was engaged in life support systems in a confined space. After the transfer of all work on space in the Air Force, he was reoriented to the study of marine fauna in the interests of the Navy.
Specialists of the department attempted to study the "ability to solve combat missions" in sharks, turtles and other sea creatures. But the results of the experiments did not give. After a long break in 2008, work with sharks was resumed under the auspices of the Defense Research and Development Agency of the US Department of Defense (DARPA). Their main goal was to study the capabilities of sharks to monitor the sea and transfer information about possible threats using special sensors. The work was led by Gell Atima, a professor of biology at Boston University. The first positive results have already been obtained - with the help of electrical stimulation of certain parts of the shark brain, it became possible to control marine predators.
The famous American dolphinologist Forrest Glenn Wood, who worked for a long time at the biological station of the US Naval Research Department, wrote in his work “Marine Mammals and Man”: “The most feasible idea seemed to us to make them (dolphins) diving assistants. And in response to questions about why the fleet should assume the costs of studying marine mammals, we usually said: "Because they can become assistants of military divers." No one ever taught dolphins to execute teams on the high seas, and therefore the idea itself looked simply speculative. And before implementing it, we had to develop methods and equipment. ”
Works with marine mammals on the “battle theme” were kept secret by the Pentagon, but foreign experts — including those in the Soviet Union — could judge them using data from various open experiments. So, for example, in 1965, during the SEALAB-2 experiment conducted in La Jolie, California, the dolphin Taff Guy (better known as Tuffy), was rescued by an aquanaut imitating a loss of orientation in depth. A diver triggered a special signaling device with a recorded signal. The dolphin “stretched” the end of the nylon cord to the aquanaut, along which the diver had to rise to the surface. The dolphin also delivered various tools, message containers and other small items from the surface to the divers and back.
But while the whole world enthusiastically watched a unique experiment, at the same time more serious work was going on at Point Mugu at the naval biological station of the US Navy. Dolphins and sea lions actively tried to teach military affairs. These species of marine animals were chosen by American experts because of their outstanding hydrodynamic qualities and exceptional biosonary abilities. For example, dolphins can "see" an item the size of a combat swimmer in the water in medium difficulty conditions at a distance of up to 500 m.
In the wake of the “hype around fighting dolphins” raised in the American media in the New Scientist newspaper 11 of August 1966, a feuilleton was released on the topic of kamikaze dolphins, which were prepared for suicide attacks of enemy submarines: will get dolphins as an anti-dolphin defense, but then we will not stop at that either. Against submarines, we can come up with something worse, for example, send mobilization summons to electric ramps. A full-fledged and well-charged ramp is capable of knocking down a horse by its discharge. In China Lake, we will train several thousand stingrays to move a chain, having pressed a negatively charged head to the positively charged tail in front of the swimmer. Such a battery will burn an electric arc to any submarine to which it attaches. And hundreds of two giant octopuses, grabbing each other by the tentacles, as soon as they smell Chinese stews or Russian black caviar, form a highly efficient moving net for catching baby submarines. ”
There were other works on this subject. Robert Merle published the Dolphin Day novel about talking dolphins. The plot was famously twisted around a conspiracy that had ripened in a certain government agency (as the CIA had guessed by the description), in order to cause a large-scale war with communist China. According to the developed “shameful” plan, it was supposed to arm two trained dolphins with mines with a nuclear warhead and “set them” on the US Navy cruiser. At the end of the novel, the animals, “having understood what they had done,” with disgust “speak” by means of an electronic translator: “People are not good!”.
It should be particularly noted that the “talking dolphins” mentioned are not the writer's imagination. Back in 1964, the contract specialist with the US Navy, Dwight Butto, designed a kind of electronic device that transforms words into dolphin whistles and whistles into sounds of human speech. Judging by the available data, the results of the experiment were encouraging. However, soon the scientist died, and none of the experts could continue his experiments.
However, the training of marine mammals in military affairs proceeded, as we say, "in a real way." Soon, the pets from Point Mugu were given the opportunity to put their skills into practice. A group of "fighters" was sent to Southeast Asia, where Washington got involved in another battle of the Cold War.
Nose - that!
Before turning to the description of the fighting episodes, I would like to cite the words of one of the Russian marine animal researchers N. S. Baryshnikov: “Dolphins are far from being peaceable animals. Their seeming harmlessness in relationships with people is rather relative. In the relationship of these there is a certain line, crossing which a person first causes a passive defensive reaction in an animal, which gradually - if a person systematically crosses this line - can turn into aggressive ... So, it was repeatedly noted that the most solid males in the first days of captivity took pose a threat to swimmers. The case, however, did not reach the attack on humans - the dolphins preferred to step aside themselves. ”
It is this “relative goodwill” of dolphins that was used by military experts in the process of learning to destroy enemy combat swimmers. The correctness of this approach was confirmed during the top-secret operation "Short Time". Within its framework, the anti-sabotage defense of the Cam Ranh base in Vietnam for 15 was carried by a group of six combat dolphins. They managed to resist well-trained - not without the help of Soviet specialists - North Vietnamese "frog people".
Official information on the results of the operation is not made public, and the information that appears periodically is extremely scarce and contradictory. One of the sources of information on Short Time is an article that appeared in 1972 in the Navy Times newspaper, which is a kind of analogue of the Red Star for the US Navy. It stated that a group of specially trained dolphins was used to protect the Cam Ranh base. They acted according to the following algorithm: finding a saboteur, the dolphin gave a signal to its “trainer”. Having received the order to "attack", he went on the attack, poking at the enemy attached on the rostrum (the dolphin's nose) with a special needle-syringe. Thus, a nerve poison was injected into the swimmer’s body. There is another opinion belonging to the Soviet intelligence service - about carbon dioxide introduced through a needle. From the gas-dynamic strike, the insides of a person were “torn”, and the saboteur went to the bottom.
As for the methods of training combat dolphins for such actions, the American specialists taught the animals to beg for fish with a rostrum blow on the trainer's torso. In a combat situation, a dolphin prepared in this way was armed with a can of compressed carbon dioxide and a long titanium needle. When the “counter-sabotage” dolphin met a floating man on its way, he approached him and, “begging for fish”, hit him with the nose with a needle. Gas was thrown into the body of the saboteur, and he died.
It should be emphasized that the command of the US Navy refused to comment even on the very existence of a “program for neutralizing combat swimmers.” But in the 1972 year at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of the former specialists of the Navy Research Department, the zoopsychologist Michael Greenwood, confirmed the fact that marine mammals were trained at the Center for Underwater War specifically for human hunting.
But there is a detailed description of the experience of using dolphins and sea lions during the testing of the US Navy's newest anti-submarine missiles and other underwater weapons. Fighting animals searched for and labeled objects, and sea lions directly participated in lifting from the bottom of rockets and torpedoes. For the first time such an operation was carried out in 1966, and in November 1970, three sea lions were involved in trials near the island of San Nicolas of an anti-submarine missile unit. Initially, sea lions could not find a warhead at depth 60 m. Then there were problems with fastening special grip. Finally, the female sea lion Turk second time secured the grip on the object. After that, the warhead raised to the surface.
This method of searching and lifting sunken models of naval weapons has become standard. For this purpose, the naval biological system “fast detection” Mk5 mod.1 (Mk5 mod.1 Quick Find MMS) was adopted. It "is designed to search and rise to the surface of practical torpedoes, mines and other objects equipped in advance with sonar beacons, from depths to 150 meters." It consists of two teams of four sea lions. They perform a short dive and then “inform” the operator about the beacon signal installed on the object. If you heard - go back to the boat and press the nose with a special rubber pad. After that, to the muzzle of a sea lion is attached a grip with a long line, which they fix when diving on a detected object. The sea lion should sink to the bottom, approach the object at a right angle to its longitudinal axis and push it with a grip. Curved legs capture captures around the body of the object, and the capture itself is separated from the muzzle. (Today, a clamp without a muzzle is used - the sea lion simply takes it into the teeth.) After checking the correctness of the clamp fixation, the animal emerges and receives a “prize”. The object is lifted to the surface. During its existence, the whiskered fighters successfully completed the 95% of tasks.
But the use of killer whales and grind for deep-sea work was not widely spread in the US Navy. Although in the first half of the 1970-s an interesting result was achieved. The trained grind discovered a sunken object and fixed on it a special clamp of the lifting equipment at a depth of 504 m.
Today, according to official data, the US Navy is armed with five biotechnical systems with combat marine mammals. In the US Navy, these systems are referred to as “marine biological” (Marine Mammals System), but it would be more appropriate to apply to them the classification introduced by Soviet specialists — the biotechnical system, since they include not only animals, but also various technical means.
The most popular currently - mine systems. The first of which - Mk4 mod.0 (Mk4 mod.0 MMS) - includes several groups of four bottle-nosed dolphins. It is designed to detect and neutralize anchor mines. The system was tested in 1991 year, and in 1993 year - adopted for service.
When searching for mines in a given area, dolphins periodically swim to the boat providing the operation. They signal operators about the search results by touching the signal disk in the fore (“target detected”) or in the aft (“target not detected”) part of it. If positive, the dolphin is transferred to the explosive charge Mk98, which is mounted on the minrepe anchor mine. Then the dolphin is released from it, returns to the boat and jumps out of the water onto a special litter. After that, the operator using the acoustic device undermines the charge. In some cases, dolphins put in the location of a mine buoy. Then it is classified and destroyed by other means with the help of divers-miners.
Another marine biotechnological mine action system - Mk7 mod.1 (Mk7 mod.1 MMS) - is designed to search for bottom mines at depths of 30 – 100 m. It consists of two groups of dolphins, four individuals each. They are the only ones in the US Navy that can detect mines buried in a layer of sand or silt. The first tests of this system took place in 1976 year.
Dolphins are delivered to the area of operation on speedboats. When the detected object is identified as a mine, the Mk86 marker is left there as a guide for divers or anti-mine underwater robots. The system is mainly used for clearing fairways, approaches to ports, as well as for controlling checks of the trawling results of small sections of the sea by mine-sweeping forces.
The system was actively used in the Persian Gulf. Two groups of four dolphins in 2003 were transferred there on the landing ship dock “Gunston Hall”, in special inflatable pools. Recently, the system was "upgraded". Now dolphins can carry out operations on the search and destruction of anti-landing minefields in shallow water areas and in the surf zone at depths of 3 – 12 m.
Another anti-mine system with trained marine animals - Mk8 (Mk8 MMS) - consists of four dolphins and units of special operations forces. This system is designed for use in covert mine operations in shallow areas, where there is a real threat of opposition from the enemy. The composite mine action unit includes reconnaissance and sabotage groups of the SSO, reconnaissance groups of the marines and combat swimmers of the detachment of neutralization of unexploded ordnance with autonomous underwater vehicles. The system was adopted by the 1 th detachment of clearing minefields in 2003, and was immediately transferred to Iraq. Dolphins move to a given area, swimming next to special boats - kayaks, in which there are combat swimmers and divers-miners. Clearing the harbor of Umm Qasr port to ensure a safe approach to the pier of the British amphibious assault ship Sir Galahed became the most famous combat dolphin operation during the last war in Iraq. Two groups of two dolphins were deployed by helicopters from Kuwait. In total, the American tailed "special forces", along with their "coaches", controlled the 913 miles of waterways during the war, examined 237 objects and found nearly a hundred different mines.
The remaining two biotechnical systems are counter-sabotage. They are designed to combat enemy combat swimmers and are designated Mk6 and Mk7. Information on them has always been quite closed. However, it is known that in 1976, a group of six dolphins trained to detect enemy combat swimmers and divers was recreated in the US Navy and received the designation Mk6 mod.1 (Mk6 mod.1 MMS). In October 1987 of the year, during the Iran-Iraq war, a group of six dolphins and 25 sailors was sent to the Persian Gulf, where for eight months it ensured the safety of navigation (Operation Jarnest Will). At the same time, the information about the losses in the "personnel" of the tailed special forces was first made public - one dolphin, nicknamed Skippy, died of a lung infection.
In 1991, largely under pressure from animal rights activists, the command of the US Navy announced the closure of a training program for "anti-sabotage animals." However, after four years, the Mk6 MMS system had to be recreated again. The dolphins were thrown to the defense of the South Korean base Pohang from North Korean saboteurs (Operation Freedom Banner), and in 1996, the group was used to guard the American naval base San Diego.
Since then, there is no information about dolphins - fighters with "frog people". On the other hand, the biotechnical system of the fight against underwater saboteurs Mk7, including Californian sea lions trained for the same purpose, "lit up". It was this group that was transferred to Bahrain in the 2003 year in order to ensure the protection of the anchorage of ships and ships of the US Navy. Then the media flooded pictures of yawning baleen "special forces", posing against the backdrop of the Bahraini base. Unlike dolphins, sea lions trained to attach a special clip to the legs of the saboteurs, fastened with a cable that was attached to the boat with the soldiers of the anti-sabotage unit. Having received a conditioned signal from their pet, the special forces simply chose the cable along with the prisoner dangling on it.
Currently, there are five naval centers in the United States that are actively involved in the preparation of maritime mammals: at Point Point Loma (San Diego, Kalifonia); in the area of the Panama Canal; in the bay Kaneoha Bay (Hawaii); on Lake Pand-Oray (Idaho); at Cape Prince of Wales (Alaska).
Interesting facts related to the training program for fighting animals in the US, surfaced after Hurricane Katrina. Information was leaked to the press that, as a result of the destruction of the open-air cage, 36 deserted combat dolphins. This message has become a real information bomb and caused a slight panic. However, the military was soon able to catch most of the battle dolphins, but the piquancy of the situation was that in that area of the Gulf of Mexico coast near New Orleans, according to official data, there are no naval facilities of similar designation. Where did the bottlenose dolphins “run away”? There is still no answer to this question.
In total, since the opening of the first Marin Steedioux aquarium in the USA in 1938 and the 1980 year, American organizations and agencies have captured at least 1500 live dolphins for military and civilian needs. In 1986, the United States Congress, by special order, suspended in relation to the Navy the Law on the Protection of Marine Animals of 1972, and officially authorized the capture of dolphins "for the purposes of the US Navy." To date, the seven special bases of the US Navy, according to official data of the Pentagon, are 115 such specially trained animals.