The US Navy has been studying the unique abilities of marine mammals since at least the 50′s, and has found ways to put these animals to work both in warfare and in national security. Most of this work is in the ‘detect, catch or fetch it’ category – such as locating and marking underwater mines – and the animals are well cared for by industry standards.
Whether we like it or not, until people stop coming up with ways to blow each other up or otherwise use the murky water depths for senseless destruction the Navy will continue to use whatever resources they have to protect and defend us, and dolphins are some of their best allies (*see below).
As loathsome as the practice by the military of conscripting cetaceans as soldiers may be, we are just players in a global contest, and the Navy is not the bad guy – or at least, is not the worst guy (although their research has been callous, and caused great suffering to whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals). We Americans forget, in our passion to protect innocent animals, that other countries also carry on similar research and activities, and in many nations there are no laws to prevent animal cruelty.
The development, training, veterinary care, and research facility that supports today’s Navy Marine Mammal Program is centered in the Biosciences Division of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) located in San Diego, California.
Does the Navy train its dolphins for offensive warfare, including attacks on ships and human swimmers or divers?
No. The Navy does not now train, nor has it ever trained, its marine mammals to harm or injure humans in any fashion or to carry weapons to destroy ships…Since dolphins cannot discern the difference between enemy and friendly vessels, or enemy and friendly divers and swimmers, it would not be wise to give that kind of decision authority to an animal. The animals are trained to detect, locate, and mark all mines or all swimmers in an area of interest or concern, and are not trained to distinguish between what we would refer to as good or bad. That decision is always left to humans.
Is the Navy exempt from following regulations for the keeping of marine mammals?
…The Navy is responsible for meeting all requirements of these laws regarding acquisition, care and treatment of its marine mammals, and not only meets but exceeds them and leads the industry in many cases. Congress has provided the Navy with exemptions to a few specific requirements in support of national security, but none related to the care and well-being of the animals.
Source: Seattle PI