The Russian Navy reportedly deployed “marine mammals” to Tartus in Syria to protect the Naval base.
This happened back between September-December 2018, Covert Shores reported.
The animals, who were most likely seals, but could also be dolphins, were positioned next to the harbor defense units which were also being boosted around that time.
According to Covert Shores, the Russian Navy is known to train seals to carry out anti-diver operations, but these seals and/or dolphins were there to carry out harbor defense duties.
They could possibly also be used to protect the undersea pipe lines near the port which have been targeted by opposition divers.
From the Google Earth Imagery, below, apparently marine pens are present on September 30th, 2018 and on November 8th, 2018. But they were gone on February 4th, 2019. They were delivered sometime around September 28th, 2018 and were removed on December 22nd, according to the outlet.
New article on Covert Shores. #OSINT find! #Russia deployed Marine Mammals (I think seals, could be dolphins) to Tartus, Syria. Likely for counter-diver operations. Read about it https://t.co/bLrMdOy4WV pic.twitter.com/xKg6naTL8h
— H I Sutton (@CovertShores) June 25, 2020
The marine mammals reportedly came from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, because apparently there is a unit based near Sevastopol in Crimea.
The Black Sea Fleet regularly deploys warships to Tartus, as well as submarines going through the Bosporus.
The photograph below allegedly show the training of combat dolphins back in 2017 in the Sevastopol harbor.
— Capt(N) (@Capt_Navy) October 10, 2017
This unit, at Kazachya Bukhta near Sevastopol, was the Russian Navy’s main marine mammal establishment during the Cold War.
The Google Earth screenshot below provides a view of the Marine Mammal Unit.
It is unknown why the marine mammals were in Tartus and it turns out they aren’t there anymore.
“It is unclear why they were there for only a few months. Their mission may have been specific and of a fixed duration. Or possibly it was an experimental deployment to build the Russian Navy’s resurgent marine mammal program’s capabilities. Or possibly the deployment was not considered a success and was abandoned.”
This is more puzzling since, as Covert Shores itself describes, the Tartus port is quite well defended, even without any seals or dolphins protecting it.
“The port is defended by an array of anti-sabotage units. There are counter-divers armed with APS-5 underwater assault rifles and SPP-1 underwater pistols. There are two Pr.21980 Grachonok Class anti-sabotage boats, four assault boats and an array of smaller craft used to patrol the harbor. Russian warships are generally equipped with pedestal mounted multi-barrel anti-diver grenade launchers.”
In June 2019 five underwater pipelines have been damaged and put out of order after a sabotage attack. Divers placed explosives on the pipeline off the coastal town of Banias, about 25 miles north of the port.
Combat Diver Foundation on Twitter reminded that in June 2019 and January 2020, the pipes were sabotaged.
— Combat Diver Foundation (@CDFoundation1) June 25, 2020
But, according to Covert Shores, the pens and mammals were gone by then, or possibly the pens were removed and the marine mammals were allowed to carry out their mission independently.
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