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Navy Marine Mammal Systems in Support of Munitions Clearance

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Since the early 1970s, the U.S. Navy has utilized bottlenose dolphins to detect, locate, and neutralize moored, bottom, and buried sea mines. The dolphins’ highly evolved biological sonar is superb at finding mines in cluttered and highly challenging marine environments. Recently, the Navy applied the dolphins’ mine-hunting capabilities to the mission of demining in the waters off the coast of New Caledonia. In November 2009, a team of dolphins, along with their handlers, were deployed to New Caledonia and worked alongside other mine-hunting assets to clear mines that were planted during World War II. The dolphins’ extremely low false-positive rate made them ideally suited to sort through the large number of contacts generated by other assets and to mark the location of the actual mines. Through this highly successful and unique operation, numerous mines were cleared and disposed of. Currently, there are plans to participate in similar types of demining exercises in the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro as well as in the Baltic region.
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Keywords: UXO; dolphin; humanitarian demining; mines; navy

Document Type: Technical Note

Publication date: 2011-11-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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