For a moment, the mammal and the machine are side by side on a Navy dock here.
The dolphin and the drone — and their respective handlers — will spend the morning training for a possible order to deploy to the Persian Gulf or some other international trouble spot to detect underwater mines, or maybe to guard a port against a terrorist threat.
The mammal is Puanani, a bottlenose dolphin, a sleek 7 feet, 10 inches long and 427 pounds. The machine is an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle, or UUV, Kingfish version, 11 feet long, 600 pounds.
Puanani was born in the Gulf of Mexico and received initial training from the Navy in Hawaii. The cigar-shaped UUV was built by Hydroid, Inc., a Massachusetts-based defense contractor.
Plus, they tend to have fewer liberty incidents than most sailors.