Declassified in the early 1990’s, the United States Navy Marine Mammal Program would reveal how the US Navy tried to utilize the intelligence, exceptional diving ability, and trainability of dolphins, something that would lead to the foundation of a new research program
The first time the US Navy would work with dolphins in a military capacity was in 1960 when they began to study the hydrodynamic properties of the Pacific white-sided dolphin in order to improve torpedo performance.
By 1967 the program would evolve when they began training dolphins for mine-hunting and force-protection missions. In the case of mine hunting, dolphins were trained to locate underwater mines and release buoys over their location, allowing the Navy to safely clear the weapons.
The program would apparently see some success during the Iraq War in 2003 when the Navy claimed that dolphins assisted in the clearance of over 100 antiship mines and underwater booby traps in the port of Umm Qasr.
Although the Navy’s policy requires that only positive reinforcement techniques be used in the training of their animals, and that they be cared for in accordance with accepted standards, there has been controversy related to alleged mistreatment of animals in the program, and controversy continues over the use of marine mammals for military purposes.