The Scoop Deck

Navy dolphins find old, inert torpedo off California coast

A group of Navy dolphins who detect underwater mines found something unique during a training session: a Howell torpedo that is more than 100 years old.

A Howell torpedo, like the one found by the Navy’s mine-detecting dolphins. (Navy photo)

In April, a bottlenose dolphin named Ten surfaced from a training dive off the coast of Coronado, Calif. and touched the front of the boat with his nose — a sign that he had found something during the dive, the Los Angeles Times reported. Navy personnel were surprised that he had signaled positive in a place they didn’t expect, but they were even more surprised when Spetz, another dolphin in the program, did the same thing in the same area a week later.

Divers and explosive ordnance disposal technicians searched for the object and discovered it was a torpedo, which had broken into two pieces over the years and become inert, the article said.

The Howell torpedo was the first torpedo that could be released into the ocean and follow a track, according to a Defense Department release. Only about 50 were made between 1870 and 1889.

Prior to the dolphins’ find, there was only one known Howell torpedo still in existence — on display at the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Wash. The Howell recently discovered by the dolphins will be shipped to Naval History and Heritage Command at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

Members of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific Marine Mammal Team pose May 15 with one of the Navy’s specially trained Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins. (Photo by Alan Antczak)

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  1. Rare torpedo discovered by dolphins ready for restoration — Off Duty Plus Says:
    June 6th, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    [...] (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}The rare torpedo discovered by dolphins off the coast of California arrived safely at the Washington Navy Yard on May [...]