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The dolphins deployed as underwater sentinels to the Arabian Gulf region by the U.S. Navy last year have been valuable in protecting coalition ships and piers against terrorist attacks, a Navy spokesmen said Friday.

The dolphins, brought to the region in spring 2003, are trained to detect, locate and mark a swimmer or diver and alert their human handlers.

"The mission is going well. The dolphins have provided a very valuable layer of defense here," said Lt. Josh Frey, spokesman for the 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain. "We judge their success by the fact that no terrorism has occurred here."

Citing security reasons, Frey would not say how many dolphins were deployed or how long they will be in the region.

The Navy used dolphins during the Vietnam War and again in the Iraq war to detect mines at the country's deep-water port.

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