SAN DIEGO (AP) — A contractor with a Navy program that trains dolphins and sea lions for missions drowned during a nighttime exercise in San Diego Bay, the first death for the program that started in 1959, a Navy spokesman said Wednesday.
Coll Perske, 29, was part of a team of contractors with Virginia-based Science Applications International Corp. training Navy dolphins and sea lions to intercept someone in the water, Navy spokesman Jim Fallin said. The San Diego County coroner's office says colleagues pulled Perske out of the water Monday night, and he was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The Navy is investigating the incident, but initial reports indicate the mammals had no contact with Perske before he failed to resurface, Fallin said.
The program's nonessential training is on hold during the investigation, Fallin said.
Capt. Kurt Rothenhaus, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific's commanding officer, expressed his condolences to Perske's family, friends and colleagues and called his death a "tremendous loss for us."
Perske had been with the company and the marine mammal program for more than five years, Science Applications International said in a statement.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends," the statement said.
The Navy's $28 million marine mammal program, headquartered in San Diego, trains 80 bottlenose dolphins and 40 California sea lions to do everything from finding underwater mines to stopping enemy divers.
Marine mammals have been used during wartime from Vietnam to Iraq.
The sonar of bottlenose dolphins make them highly effective at finding underwater mines, which are hard to detect. California sea lions can see extremely well in darkness, have directional hearing and can squeeze through tight spaces — which makes them effective at marking and retrieving objects in the ocean. Both species can make repeated deep-water dives, unlike humans.
The mammals are not trained to attack and are never used to harm people, according to the Navy. They are trained to intercept swimmers and can carry devices to attach to anyone posing a threat so sailors can then either reel them in or go in to respond appropriately.
The Navy's marine mammals also never have to carry potentially catastrophic mines but instead find the devices and place markers near them. They are then removed from the area before Navy divers retrieve and defuse the devices.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.
A San Diego family is continuing their fight for justice for their son after his accused killer, a twice deported undocumented immigrant, fled to Mexico.
Amid an uptick of shootings across San Diego, on Thursday, community came together to discuss ways to stop gun violence in San Diego neighborhoods.
Crews dousing the smoldering remnants of a roughly 60-acre wildfire near Pala Casino had the burn area 100 percent contained Thursday night.
A terrifying scene played out in La Mesa earlier this week when an eighth grader was chased by a man with machetes on her way to school. The man accused – who allegedly had two machetes as he chased the 13-year-old girl – was shot by police and on Thursday was charged under unusual circumstances.
Imagine being at work, when suddenly your boss demands you stop what you're doing and take a break. In Thursday's Zevely Zone, Jeff's in the East Village with the San Diego Humane Society's first "kitten crash."
Beginning Thursday through July 4, 2018, U.S. veterans and up to three guests may enjoy free admission to SeaWorld San Diego as well as other SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment properties across the country. This new offer joins the ongoing Waves of Honor program that offers complimentary admission to any U.S. active duty military, activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman once per year, for the military personnel and as many as three direct dependents.
For four hours on Tuesday, a domestic violence suspect held police off with SWAT snipers positioned on rooftops in a Bay Terraces neighborhood. On Thursday, the man arrested answered to charges in court.
A furnace mishap at a South Bay funeral home briefly sent smoke from a crematorium into the air near the interchange of Interstate 5 and state Route 54 interchange Thursday, authorities reported.
Authorities say a couple from California and a man from southern Nevada man were among five people killed in a fiery three-vehicle crash on a remote highway northwest of Las Vegas.