Russian navy acquires Crimea's combat dolphins and seals following annexation
US military dolphins to participate in Black Sea military drill Wikimedia Commons/US Navy's file photo

Military dolphins and sea lions of the US navy are set to participate in a Nato drill in the Black Sea this summer, according to reports.

This will be first time the transatlantic forces will be using the mammals in such an exercise.

The drill will test a newly designed anti-radar system which has been devised to "disorient enemy sonars, while sea lions and dolphins are looking for mines and military divers".

The Russian daily Izvestia reports, citing Tom Lapuzza, spokesperson for the US Navy's marine mammals programme, that the exercise will involve 20 dolphins and 10 sea lions which will be airlifted to Ukraine.

"In addition, we plan to test new armour for dolphins developed by a specialised research centre based in the University of Hawaii," added Lapuzza.

The newspaper further wrote: "It may so happen that American and Russian military dolphins will meet in the open sea for the first time: it is known that such dolphins are trained only in Russia and the USA."

The drill is to take place for one or two weeks. The maximum period of stay for the naval forces of any country, which does not have access to the Black Sea, is 21 days according to an international agreement.

The US navy's latest move has come at the height of the Ukraine crisis and amid fears of Russian intervention.

Russia has recently acquired the combat dolphins and seals in Crimea which were part of Ukraine before the annexation of the peninsula.

There are only two combat dolphin training centres in the world – one based in San Diego and the other in Sevastopol.

The Soviet-run facility, operated in the interests of the Ukrainian navy, was believed to have shut down following the collapse of the USSR. However, it was resumed in 2012 by the Ukrainian military.