The commando dolphins (not featured in this picture) are believed to be highly trained and looking for a mate. Credit: Reuters

Three Ukrainian commando dolphins have reportedly escaped their handler in the Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula located on the northern coast of the Black Sea.

The dolphins are trained to kill enemy divers, detect mines and also to plant explosives. They are even trained to use knives or pistols attached to their heads.

According to reports from Ukrainian media, only two of five military-trained dolphins returned to their base in the port city of Sevastopol after recent exercises. It is unclear whether they were armed when they decide to abscond.

Experts who have been involved with training the dolphins for some time say that the mammals may have gone looking for mates. Apparently the dolphins' lustful intentions regularly get in the way of their work, and the males in the group are particularly vulnerable to the charms of the opposite sex.

Yury Plyachenko, a former Soviet naval trainer told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the males have abandoned their training on several occasions at the sight of a potential partner, but they invariably return when the thrill of the chase has subsided.

"If a male dolphin saw a female dolphin during the mating season, then he would immediately set off after her. But they came back in a week or so," Plyachenko said.

However, the Ukrainian defence ministry has denied the reports and refused to confirm the existence of any killer dolphin programme, despite various pictures of dolphins saddled with military equipment emerging in the national media.