How the U.S. Navy Is Replacing Minesweeping Dolphins and Seals with Unmanned Subs That Look and Swim Like Sharks

by Owen James Burke

Silent Nemo testing

The “GhostSwimmer” can document data in real time and dive to 300 feet. Photo: US Navy

Using bio-mimicry — that is, basing solutions to human problems on systems or elements observed in nature — the GhostSwimmer will protect divers on low-intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, taking the place of dolphins and seals. These jobs often include detecting live mines and other explosives, jobs they’d be beyond thrilled relinquish.

The US Navy and other navies around the world have been employing dolphins and seals to do dangerous work since the 1960, and in the decades since have come under severe scrutiny for it, mostly by environmental groups.

At a length of 5 feet with a weight of about a hundred pounds, the navy admits that their “shark sub,” an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) is more along the lines of a small tuna. For now, it will be collecting data on weather, current and tides, but there are hopes to soon to see her spelling her blubbery friends, the dolphins and seals.

This is only the latest of the biologically-based innovations to come out of the Navy’s project, “Silent NEMO,” which has largely been spearheaded by junior Sailors.

Watch a video by the Daily Mail:

Read more on gCaptain — OJB

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