By Ed Friedrich
Originally published 10:52 a.m., November 18, 2009
Updated 07:16 p.m., November 18, 2009
BANGOR — Specially trained Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions will help guard Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor starting next year, the Navy announced Wednesday.
Their job will be to stop swimmers or divers from infiltrating the Trident submarine base. Marine mammals are already being used to find possible intruders at other Navy bases, including at King’s Bay, Ga., the home of the rest of the nation’s Trident fleet. It is the culmination of a 3 1/2 year environmental process to clear the way for what the Navy calls a swimmer interdiction security system.
The Navy looked at several options to protect against possible attack from swimmers, but officials said they couldn’t find a better way of meeting new terrorism-driven security requirements. The marine mammals were its preferred alternative from the beginning.
Other finalists included combat swimmers or using remotely-operated vehicles. Neither system exists, however, and would have had to be developed, and neither could detect intruders. They could only respond after being alerted by an existing detection system.
Dolphins and sea lions can find intruders by themselves and have been doing so for years at other bases, the Navy said. more