The US Navy has awarded a contract to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to provide training and support for marine mammals that form part of the navy’s marine mammal system (MMS).

Under the $49m contract, SAIC will provide care and training of the MMS’s marine mammals based at naval submarine bases in Georgia and California.

SAIC will also provide personnel, and develop training and curriculums as required in support of the MMS programme.

The MMS uses dolphins and sea lions to identify and mark the location of underwater objects.

The dolphins use their technologically unmatched sonar, and sea lions use their sensitive underwater directional hearing and low-light vision to detect objects in the water and on the sea floor.

Marine mammals are trained to provide security by patrolling areas, and to identify and mark objects such as underwater mines.

The five-year contract has been awarded by the navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Centre Pacific.