The animal theme of tonight's "60 Minutes Presents" broadcast sent us back to our show's archives to find the earliest animal stories our founding fathers tackled at this broadcast. That's how we found a 1973 piece, called "Dolphins Aweigh," about the U.S. Navy's Marine Mammal Program. It is laugh-out-loud funny in spots, but it's not the dolphins that make this old report so fun to watch-- it's the humans.
Great characters from a bygone era abound in this story, starting with what appears to be a surfer from "The Endless Summer" attempting to speak "dolphin." "Pooka emu-a yump!"
Reported by Morley Safer, the piece is an investigation into the Navy's use of dolphins, sea lions, and other marine animals in "top secret" military operations.
James Fitzgerald, a pioneer in dolphin research for U.S. intelligence in the 1960s and 70s, demonstrates how seriously the military took this endeavor. In this next clip, Fitzgerald refers to dolphins as "operating vehicles" that can travel at "a fuel rate of fifteen pounds of fish a day."
But perhaps our favorite 70s-era character in this piece is Harris Stone, a man referred to by colleagues at the Pentagon as "The Dolphin Czar."
Morley Safer is at his best, with cutaway expressions that are appropriately deadpan, as you'll see in the following clip. Here, "The Dolphin Czar" tells Morley how outraged he is by accusations that the Navy employs "kamikaze porpoises," dolphins supposedly trained to be suicide-bombers for the US Navy.
The Navy's Marine Mammal Program has deployed dolphins and other sea mammals in conflicts from Vietnam to Iraq, and it continues to operate today. But the program's official response to accusations that it trains so-called kamikaze dolphins remains the same as the Dolphin Czar's response (if a bit less impassioned) back in '73. "The Navy does not now train, nor has it ever trained, its marine mammals to harm or injure humans in any fashion or to carry weapons to destroy ships," states the Navy on its Marine Mammal Program website.
But that's not what Mike Greenwood, a behavioral psychologist with "top secret" Navy clearance, told Morley back in 1973. Greenwood is our final -- and favorite -- character of the piece. Here, Morley asks him whether dolphins and other sea mammals were used in U.S. military operations off the coast of Cuba.
To see the original report "Dolphins Aweigh" as it aired back in 1973, watch below.