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How The Navy Tried To Turn Sharks into Torpedos (undark.org) 60

Long-time Slashdot reader v3rgEz writes: Documents recently declassified show one of the odder experimental weapons developed after World War II: Weaponized sharks. Guided by sharp electric shocks, the sharks were trained to deliver explosive payloads -- essentially turning them into living, breathing, remote-controlled torpedoes that could be put to use in the Pacific Theater.
Following years of research on "shark repellent," the Navy spent 13 years building a special head gear for sharks which sensed the shark's direction and tried to deliver shocks if the sharks strayed off-course. The journalist who tracked down details of "Project Headgear" published the recently-declassified information on MIT's journalism site Undark, noting that "The shark wasn't so much a 'torpedo' as a suicide bomber... "
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How The Navy Tried To Turn Sharks into Torpedos

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  • It's not suicide, if they didn't have a choice.
    • I was surprised by the clear lack of laser beams myself.
      • I was surprised by the clear lack of laser beams myself.

        This project started in 1958. Lasers were invented in1960. Early lasers were way too bulky to fit on a shark's head harness, and could not be immersed in saltwater.

        • Actually they started out with this shark bomber project, but it was considered too wasteful to train sharks and then blow them up on their first and only mission. So they started thinking "what if we could attach some other device to the sharks, maybe something like a really strong beam of light that can burn through hulls" and that lead to the invention of the laser shortly afterwards. So next time you see Jaws on DVD or blueray, remember you have sharks to thank for that.

          • Actually they started out with this shark bomber project, but it was considered too wasteful to train sharks and then blow them up on their first and only mission. So they started thinking "what if we could attach some other device to the sharks, maybe something like a really strong beam of light that can burn through hulls" and that lead to the invention of the laser shortly afterwards. So next time you see Jaws on DVD or blueray, remember you have sharks to thank for that.

            followed by the invention of the sharknado, and the rest is history

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 13, 2016 @02:36PM (#52696957)

    Sharkpedo?

  • Inhuman (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Using animals as suicide bombers. Inexcusable.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Much better to ride them into battle. The outcome is so much different.

      • by Calydor ( 739835 )

        At least in the case of cavalry the human involved faces equal risk - this is akin to drone assassinations carried out by some guy sitting in complete safety in a room with air condition while sipping a drink.

        • this is akin to drone assassinations carried out by some guy sitting in complete safety in a room with air condition while sipping a drink.

          Yeah, those hackers sitting in their mother's basement killing drones from a distance... inexcusable.

    • Re: Inhuman (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Saturday August 13, 2016 @03:12PM (#52697037)
      The Soviets trained strapped antitank mines to dogs and trained them to run under German tanks. The mines had a trigger mechanism that would trip when they went under the tank. The story goes though that captured German tanks were in short supply so they had to use Soviet tanks when training the dogs. This led to unfortunate results in battle because the dogs would go towards Soviet tanks (which used and smelled of diesel) than German tanks (gas).
    • The Russians who used anti-tank dogs in WWII felt the same way. They would have preferred to use Chechens, but they cannot be trained.

    • Using apex predators to take out mortal enemies? Its a win-win.

      Fuck sharks, crocodiles, alligators, tigers, lions, bears, hippos, etc. Anything with the ability to kill humans that hasn't learned better by now is insufficiently extinct.

    • Using animals as suicide bombers. Inexcusable.

      So it's okay to catch a fish (which kills one animal), but it's not okay to use a shark as a bomb (which kills one animal and is useful)?

    • During a major war, why shouldn't we use animals as missile guidance systems? Are their lives more sacrosanct than the people who were are going to blow up?

  • Might have been simpler and result in less guilt over harming innocent sharks.

  • Within the realm of military research, this doesn't seem far-fetched.

  • There was no "Pacific Theater" AFTER World War II. Sheesh. Certainly not 1958-1971.

  • So now we're going to see him pop out a rubber "cartilage" shark skeleton that screams "Allahu *BLUB*BLUB!*

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday August 13, 2016 @06:10PM (#52697559)

    ... is working on a land shark.

  • Sharknado 5!

  • I found the article quite interesting, mostly because of the mention at the end about the use of beasts of burden on land to carry an explosive to a target.

    I'm reminded of something I read a long time ago about some sort of college experiment, competition, or whatever of people trying to race horses by remote control. They strapped a kind of robot to the back of a race horse that could handle a harness and a whip. I don't recall the point of doing this, or at least what point they had in mind, but with re

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