Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Dolphin by any other name?

I am not a military man..  Although my father was a Lieutenant in the US Navy during World War II, called back during the Korean "conflict" and served honorably.... none of that was passed on to me. There were some definite naval attitudes in my raising but I think my Dad would have been as good of a Father and wonderful man irregardless of his military experiences.
I never served in the armed forces. Vietnam was my war, but I didn't have to go. I would have gone if called although I never understood how a country of rice farmers had any impact on my life.   For me I think the experience would have altered the person I am today.  It is speculation to wonder if it would have changed me for the better or worse.  
Growing up in the "tune in, turn on and drop out" attitudes of the Make Love 60's I will never understand the military.  An organization who's sole purpose is to train humans to kill other humans on command does not jibe with any part of my being.  Yes, I suppose that I owe my freedom and liberty to that organization but I will never fully understand it. To even understand it would change my persona to that degree.
All this speculation was brought to my attention by an article in the Times today.  It is about the underwater discovery of a 19th century brass torpedo found off the coast of San Diego... just a dingy ride from the Hotel Del Coronado. At the time it was made in the US, it was the state of the art in military armaments. It had a speed of 25 knots and could be fired from above or below the water and did not create a wake in it's path. At a time when most homes did not have electricity, it was a major accomplishment.  
Howell torpedo
 Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Wash.
It was called the Howell Torpedo and there were only 50 manufactured.  The design was enhanced and improved upon by another part of the military industrial complex and that standard became the weapon of choice.  Until this recent discovery there was only one known to be still in existence, on display at a Naval Military museum. The one who discovered it will not be promoted, awarded a medal nor even given a party by his buddies.  In fact he doesn't even have a name. 
It happened on a routine training mission.  The Navy was training bottle nose dolphins to use their sophisticated sonar to recognize and locate mines, torpedoes and enemy divers in murky waters, hidden under the ocean floor. The Navy has realized that no man made machine can come close to the abilities of the bottle nose dolphin.  Like bomb sniffing dogs the Military is training the naturally tame dolphin to participate in war. 
It is nothing new, we have been using animals to wage war for centuries, from the war horse to the elephant, dolphins are just the latest exploitation. I suppose that will continue until we can invent a machine that is superior to natural abilities. 
Whether that is moral or right or smart is not the discussion here. What is under discussion is the name of this super sonar soldier the Navy is using.  His name is "10"... not a name so much as a quick way to identify military inventory. 
Drug and explosive sniffing dogs are given names not numbers. When they are retired they usually become the personal pet of the soldier handler. Even for the military there is some sort of acknowledgment that the dog is a living creature not a piece of hardware. There is a belief that dolphins are more evolved and more intelligent than a dog so why are they given numbers.  They don't refer to soldiers and sailors by number. In fact the only living things we refer to by number are prisoners. 
The point is... how hard would it be to give "10" a real name? The fact that he discovered this rare relic so near the Coronado Naval base as to be a potential threat would make him a hero in human standards. In fact no human with any equipment available today could have discovered it.  I doubt he even got an "atta boy 10" when he was patted on the snout. 
I suppose until the world realizes that all life, even animal life, is connected there will be war, and if there is war then there will be organizations dedicated to killing. BUT, until that moment comes can we at least pretend that we care? 

As you were,


P. Grecian said...

That's lovely, Jay. You're right. "10" should have a name. I hope he and his compatriots are treated well.
There's every chance they're smarter than we are.

Paulette G said...

My sentiments, exactly! Peace not War. Way to go "10"!!