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May 25th, 2013

Damn the torpedo—PACRIM straight ahead!

Published on May 25th, 2013 | By: Eileen De Guire

One of (now) two known Howell torpedoes. Credit: Wikimedia.

If you are attending PACRIM-GOMD in San Diego next week, you will be happy to know that the torpedo is gone.

Yes, torpedo.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that Navy-trained dolphins discovered a century-old Howell torpedo in ocean waters near the Hotel del Coronado, where 900 scientists and engineers from around the world will convene for PACRIM 10 and the GOMD annual meeting June 2–7.

Only 50 Howell torpedoes were made between 1870 and 1889, and heretofore, only two were thought to exist. The Howell design featured a flywheel propulsion system, which allowed the torpedo to advance toward its target without leaving a wake. However, the system was noisy. Apparently, a rival design emerged as the dominant late-19th century technology for torpedo ordnance.

The article did not speculate on how the torpedo got there. During the 100-plus years that the torpedo lay offshore, it had split in two and the explosives had long since become inert.

The dolphins that discovered it were being trained for mine-detection activities.

It’s not too late to register for PACRIM. With the torpedo out of the way, don’t let anything hold you back from coming!


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