HomeNewsArticle Display

Airmen transport dolphins to San Diego NMMP

U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program dolphin trainers tend to their dolphins before a flight from Naval Air Station Key West, Fla., to NMMP in San Diego April 29, 2017. The dolphins are trained to find mines because of their excellent sonar and ability to perform many repeat deep water dives. (U.S. Air Force phot/Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program dolphin trainers tend to their dolphins before a flight from Naval Air Station Key West, Fla., to the NMMP in San Diego April 29, 2017. The dolphins are trained to find mines because of their excellent sonar and ability to perform many repeat deep water dives. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

A dolphin from the U.S. Naval Marine Mammal Program is prepped to fly from Key West, Fla., to San Diego, April 29, 2017. The 301st Airlift Squadron transported the dolphins and their handlers to the NMMP where the dolphins train to assist the Navy with locating mines and enemy swimmers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

A dolphin from the U.S. Naval Marine Mammal Program is prepped to fly from Key West, Fla., to San Diego, April 29, 2017. The 301st Airlift Squadron transported the dolphins and their handlers to the NMMP where the dolphins train to assist the Navy with locating mines and enemy swimmers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Staff Sgt. Suzannah Grant, a 301st Airlift Squadron loadmaster, secures a vehicle during a mission from Naval Air Station Key West, Fla., to San Diego April 29, 2017. The 301st AS transported four Bottlenose Dolphins and their handlers to the U.S. Naval Marine Mammal Program where dolphins train to assist the Navy with locating mines and enemy swimmers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Staff Sgt. Suzannah Grant, a 301st Airlift Squadron loadmaster, secures a vehicle during a mission from Naval Air Station Key West, Fla., to San Diego April 29, 2017. The 301st AS transported four Bottlenose Dolphins and their handlers to the U.S. Naval Marine Mammal Program where dolphins train to assist the Navy with locating mines and enemy swimmers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- Airmen from the 301st Airlift Squadron transported four Bottlenose Dolphins and their handlers from Naval Air Station Key West, Florida, to the U.S. Naval Marine Mammal Program, San Diego April 29, 2017.

The dolphins were moved to NAS Key West in March where they spent the last month before returning to San Diego.

“The dolphins need to be challenged and get experience in different waters,” said Brit Swenberg, an NMMP biological technician. “It also gets them used to traveling and working out of deployable vehicles.”

NMMP trains dolphins and sea lions to assist the Navy with locating mines and enemy swimmers.

The dolphins use their sonar and have the ability to make repeat dives without experiencing decompression sickness, according to Swenberg.

The flight back to San Diego presented numerous challenges for the pilots because they needed to perform shallow take offs and landings, maintain an altitude of 30,000 feet, have a pressurization below 6,000 feet and ensure the cargo area was kept at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, all while flying as smoothly as possible for the dolphins’ comfort.

“The sensitivity of the cargo posed a unique challenge for us,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Alex Salogub, a 301st AS pilot and the aircraft commander for the mission. “We don’t normally need to worry about pressurization or temperature issues with most cargo. With the C-17’s flexibility and capability as a multi-role aircraft, we are (able to) successfully complete these unique challenges.”

Throughout the flight, the dolphins’ handlers splashed water on them, ensuring their skin didn’t dry out.

Army Capt. Drew Henschen, a NMMP veterinarian, checked the dolphins throughout the flight to ensure no issues developed with them. Henschen explained the marine mammal team came with a full vet clinic to tend to the dolphins’ well-being. The team was capable of performing ultrasounds, X-rays and endoscopies, if needed.

“They are expensive assets for the Navy and take a long time to train,” said Henschen. “We make sure the dolphins are well taken care of and maintain their health. They can only do their jobs to the best of their abilities, same as humans. We want to make sure we are sending healthy animals and they stay healthy.”

Because of the versatility of the C-17, Travis AFB Airmen stand ready to move anything, anytime…anywhere, whether it’s tanks for the Army or dolphins for the Navy, something the Airmen aboard won’t soon forget.

“As loadmasters, we always swap stories about what was the coolest thing you moved,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Suzannah Grant, a 301st AS loadmaster. “Most are helicopters or tanks, but how many people can say they moved dolphins?”

Engage

Twitter
Reintegration will be a deliberate & phased approach to protect Airmen & Space Professionals. Learn to maintain rea… https://t.co/egQSAV5uRB
Twitter
The MQ-1B Predator is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft used for i… https://t.co/livZYQyXnH
Twitter
Dr. Quinton Sasnett, a faculty member at Air University, talks about the university's civilian associates degree pr… https://t.co/0BgoCiGCUy
Twitter
Improving mental health through expressive writing. @KadenaAirBase https://t.co/zVoYTQQl5z
Twitter
Medical pros at Kadena Air Base, 3-D printed naso-pharyngeal swabs to test potential #COVID19 patients. The dental… https://t.co/h8q1HgLjRZ
Twitter
The MC-12W is a medium-to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is providing intelligen… https://t.co/st7WRJLDHB
Twitter
Know what resources, treatments & therapies are available for invisible wounds. https://t.co/H2A7fYb8s3
Twitter
“The Total Force team at Eielson plays a pivotal role that extends throughout Alaska and projects into the Arctic.”… https://t.co/7nSYEtYWHj
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: 🙌🎉 Congrats to the @usairforce's newest pilots as Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-18 graduates today at @…
Twitter
.@JointBasePHH Airmen participate in a ramp drop from a C-17 Globemaster III. The 25th Air Support Ops Squadron is… https://t.co/AZVT6Qzmgv
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: It is a pleasure to be in #Alaska to see #Airmen and #SpaceProfessionals in action! Whether it’s F-35s & F-22s protectin…
Twitter
RT @EielsonAirForce: When @SecAFOfficial comes to visit, we show off the 'cool stuff' https://t.co/sGCSnVOOXg
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: A career worth a thousand words: Colonel Campbell reflects on career in aviation - https://t.co/atNAeYOoMI (Story by @Dobb
Twitter
The Air Force will host the Air Force Information Technology and Cyberpower conference virtually August 24–27.… https://t.co/9pRjj6U1lp
Twitter
A Rocket Propelled Grenade was launched at a Dyess AFB C-130J in September 2019. The Airmen had to respond quickly! https://t.co/fgfNkCjA4a
Twitter
#DYK The UH-1N has a crew of three (pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer) and is capable of flight in instrument and… https://t.co/Qcj74Tk4ra
Twitter
.@GenDaveGoldfein has left a lasting impression on @HollomanAFB. #DYK Among his many tours, he was once commander o… https://t.co/ET8q1w8ywO
Twitter
The United States Air Forces in Europe Fire Academy & 86th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters get advanced rescue… https://t.co/AUHlxm0nPt
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Thank you to the #Airmen and #SpaceProfessionals at Clear Air Force Station and @EielsonAirForce Base for sharing their…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,251,873
Follow Us