The threat of Iran closing the strait has reached a fever pitch, reports today's New York Times, with U.S. officials warning Iran's supreme leader that such moves would cross a "red line" provoking a U.S. response. Iran could block the strait with any assortment of mines, armed speed boats or anti-ship cruise missiles but according to Michael Connell at the Center for Naval Analysis, “The immediate issue [for the U.S. military] is to get the mines.” To solve that problem, the Navy has a solution that isn't heavily-advertised but has a time-tested success rate: mine-detecting dolphins.
"We've got dolphins," said retired Adm. Tim Keating in a Wednesday interview with NPR. Keating commanded the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain during the run-up to the Iraq war. He sounded uncomfortable with elaborating on the Navy's use of the lovable mammals but said in a situation like the standoff in Hormuz, Navy-trained dolphins would come in handy:
KEATING: They are astounding in their ability to detect underwater objects.
NPR's TOM BOWMAN: Dolphins were sent to the Persian Gulf as part of the American invasion force in Iraq.
KEATING: I'd rather not talk about whether we used them or not. They were present in theater.
BOWMAN: But you can't say whether you used them or not.
KEATING: I'd rather not.