KEY WEST, Fl. – The Coast Guard withdrew its towing contract from Porpoises with a Purpose after a pod of dolphins left the Cutter Goldfish adrift in the Florida Straits for five days. The 87-foot cutter broke down after running out of diesel fuel, and contacted the nearest group of dolphins to provide a tow. The dolphins were unable to render assistance as they were already engaged in an orgy spanning several days.
After more than nine cutters ran out of fuel in fiscal year 2015 and cost taxpayers more than $50 million, frustrated Coast Guard officials earmarked $25 million for an experimental dolphin towing program. “After this incident, it’s become clear that we can’t rely on these dolphins to tow our cutters anymore,” said Vice Adm. Charles Michel, Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Operations. “We need reliable, consistent offshore towing support for our incompetent skippers.”
The commanding officer of the Goldfish, Lt. j.g. Franky Schettino, said his fuel levels reached critically low levels after his crew had finished water skiing off the back of the cutter while cruising at full speed. He blamed his oversight on the fact that the cutter doesn't have a heads-up display gauge like his BMW.
In the short term, the Coast Guard plans to bring on Unicorns of the Sea as its contracted towing provider. “Narwhals are inherently more disciplined than dolphins, come with a built-in tow bit, and have a much lower sex drive,” said Michel. “We’re confident that they’ll be able to deliver until we find a long term solution.”
Schettino was subsequently relieved for cause, and has been reassigned to the Coast Guard Academy to teach Nautical Science. He joins a cadre of 15 prior commanding officers who were also relieved.
“Our goal is to train the next generation of officers so these types of things don’t happen anymore,” said Michael. “Hopefully, we’ll no longer have a need for marine mammals.”