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US Navy's 'Flipper' goes AWOL! :

"AUSTRALIAN military divers yesterday questioned the effectiveness of the US Navy's mine-clearing dolphins, revealing one had disappeared for two days. The polite way to express their scepticism about the mine-clearing skills of the dolphins is to question their reliability and cost-efficiency, but one diver spoke more plainly yesterday.

"Flipper's f----ed, mate," he said.

"The dolphins have had all this amazing publicity but as soon as they put one in the water it shot through. There's a war going on and Flipper goes AWOL (absent without leave)." The diver said the dolphin returned two days later. But in the interim, the US Navy brought in another dolphin by helicopter. "That meant some of our gear got bumped off the flight," he said.

The handlers of the five dolphins at work in the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr confirmed yesterday that one of their charges, a male named Tacoma, did disappear when put in the water to go to work. "Two days later we found him in the same spot where we put him in the water," said Lieutenant Robert Greene, the officer in charge of the M-7 series of mine-clearing dolphins.

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