Ukraine’s secret unit of spy dolphins and seals have defected to Russia and are now swimming under Kremlin orders, officials revealed today.
The Army has been using the underwater mammals since the 70s, and they remained under Ukrainian command after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The bottlenose dolphins are trained to hunt for mines, plant bombs on hostile ships or attack enemy divers with special knives or pistols fixed to their heads.
The use of bottlenose dolphins as naval assets was begun during the Cold War in Sevastopol by the Soviet Union in 1973. With the collapse of the USSR, they were enlisted in the Ukrainian navy.
Now after the Russian repossession of the Crimean peninsula this month, it was revealed today that the combat dolphins are now back under Kremlin control along with all 193 military units in the region.
‘The military dolphins serving in Crimea will be transferred to the Russian Navy,’ reported state-owned Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
In fact, Ukraine announced last month it was preparing to cease naval training with the mammals, so the Russian annexation of the Black Sea region has probably saved the unique underwater force.
‘Engineers are developing new equipment for new programmes so that the dolphins can be used more effectively in underwater operations,’ a source said today.
‘Our specialists have been working on new equipment that transform the dolphin’s sonar signal at the point of detecting a submarine into a signal on the operator’s screen.
‘But the Ukrainian Fleet didn’t have enough money to develop such know how and some projects had to be closed.’
The dolphin specialists believe the Russian military will fund the new developments.
While the dolphins show extraordinary intelligence, sometimes they disobeyed their Ukrainian commanders.
Last year three of five spy dolphins went absent without leave in the Black Sea – apparently in search of love, but returned to their duties shortly afterwards.
Yury Plyachenko, a former Soviet naval anti-sabotage officer, explained that this was something that had to be taken into account in working with the 007 mammals.
‘If a male dolphin saw a female dolphin during the mating season, then he would immediately set off after her. But they come back in a week or so.’