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Found this today....

Feb. 18, 2003  |  MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) -- Move over
Navy SEALs: There's a new sea creature in town.

Make way for Zachary, the 19-year old sea lion, one of
the U.S. Navy's new secret weapons in any war against


Brought to the Persian Gulf to swim alongside naval
vessels and key facilities in this kingdom, Zachary
and the other whiskered sea mammals will guard against
attack, providing early warning of enemy saboteurs.

``If there is somebody down there who shouldn't be
there, the sea lions will find them,'' said Lt. J.G.
Josh Frey, a spokesman for the Navy's 5th Fleet.

The need for the stealthy sea lion was highlighted
after the Oct. 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole. The
bombing, blamed on al-Qaida, occurred when a seemingly
harmless dinghy eased up to the destroyer and blew a
hole in its hull, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39.

A sea lion patrol, had it been there, might not have
been able to detect the Cole attackers because they
were above the surface, but the bombing demonstrated
the vulnerability of navy ships to small-scale

The U.S. military has used intelligent sea creatures
for three decades, including dolphins that patrolled
Persian Gulf waters during the late 1980s. But it is
the first time sea lions are being used in an

The Navy chose the mammals for their ability to see in
very low light, directional underwater hearing, and
their capacity for repeated deep dives to up to 650

``They are a lot more agile in tight places in the
water than dolphins,'' said Brenda Bryan, a civilian
who is the head trainer in Bahrain.

Turns out, the sea lions have media savvy too. On a
recent day in Bahrain harbor, Zachary the sea lion
showed off for the cameras, jumping in and out of a
dingy and frolicking in the water.

Prompted by a signal from his handler, Zachary flopped
into the water, rolled over a couple of times, and
poked his head up, blinking his black eyes and waiting
for the next instruction.

A handler whacked the side of the inflatable boat with
a stick, and with a quick thrust of his powerful
flippers Zachary easily lifted his 385 pounds out of
the water and into the bow.

Water glistening darkly on his thick hairy coat,
Zachary greedily accepted a fish treat for his

The sea lions will go looking for threatening
swimmers, divers or small outboard-powered inflatable

If they find one, the sea lion will come to surface to
raise the alarm, Frey said. The handlers can then give
the sea lion a clamp attached to a line that the
animal can fix to the suspect's leg, marking him with
a surface buoy and letting troops on the surface haul
him in like a fish.

``The sea lions are ... protecting our ships and
sailors and Marines in the port, and our coalition
partners as well,'' said Cmdr. Jon Wood, a special
operations officer at the Navy's Central Command in

The Navy started using marine mammals in the early
1960s, when scientists began investigating whether the ultra-sleek shape of dolphins had hydrodynamic qualities that could be used to improve underwater missiles.

Military researchers then began looking into how sea
mammals' highly developed senses _ like dolphins'
sonar _ could be harnessed. During testing in the
1960s, dolphins and sea lions quickly proved reliable
carriers of messages, tools and other equipment. Plus
they could be trusted to operate unaccompanied in open

Dolphins were used in the 1970s during the Vietnam
War. In the late 1980s, six Navy dolphins patrolled
the Bahrain harbor to protect U.S. ships from enemy
swimmers and mines and escorted Kuwaiti oil tankers
through potentially dangerous waters.

Whales also have been tested for Navy use. A pilot
whale successfully found and attached a recovery
device to a dummy torpedo at 1,654 feet.

For now, the sea lions are spending their days getting accustomed to the warm waters of the Gulf. The sea lions are operated by Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Three and Navy Special Clearance Team One, both out of San Diego _ where the water is a few degrees cooler.

``They have adapted really quickly and really well,''
Bryan said, adding that the sea lions are eating
heartily and happily and aren't losing weight.

They are better than dolphins 'cause they can carry on the pursuit up the beach - highly amusing

147 Posts
Imported post

Unfortunately, it has also been reported that the Iraqis have developed some cunning counter measures.

These include half a herring and a large inflatable ball.

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