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Navy dolphin locates sunken boat in San Diego harbour

22nd August 1997
Courtesy of Naval Command Control and Ocean Surveillance Center
RDT&E Division Public Affairs

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CORONADO, Calif. (NWSA) -- A Navy dolphin assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3 at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., played a key role in locating a small boat that sank about half a mile off Pt. Loma, just outside San Diego Harbor.

The Army Corps of Engineers boat had been conducting hydrographic surveys when it suddenly began taking on water.

The crew was rescued, but the boat sank in about 40 feet of water. The Army decided to salvage it to determine the cause of the sinking.

EODMU-3's MK 7 Marine Mammal System Detachment, which specializes in detecting and marking sea mines on the ocean floor, was called in.

"My unit trains every day to find mines, but the dolphins can also be asked to look for objects foreign to the sea bottom, such as pieces of metal," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class (EOD) David Brecht. He instructed the dolphin he works with, Makai, to conduct a search of the immediate area and report any noteworthy metal objects.

When Makai responded that he had found something, Brecht provided him with a marking device to take down and place near the item. A buoy from the marking device floats to the surface, allowing human EOD divers to find the object quickly and determine its value.

EOD divers LCDR Adam Guziewicz and Operations Specialist 1st Class (EOD) Kevin Lundgren checked each item Makai marked.

"The first six dives we located a generator, a tool box and pieces of railing from the boat," said Brecht, a five- year Navy veteran from Baltimore. "The seventh dive we found the boat."

Appropriate buoys were attached by the divers, allowing a civilian contractor to locate and raise the boat and bring it ashore to investigate the cause of the sinking.

Makai has been working with the fleet at EODMU-3 for 15 years.

Brecht who has been with the unit for three months, said, "I never imagined I'd be working with Navy dolphins when I signed up. It's great."

The Navy's Marine Mammal Program is just one facet of EOD. EOD technicians deploy in support of carrier battle groups, amphibious task groups and mine countermeasures operations.

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