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Another Fully Submersible Narco Sub Found

by John Reed on February 16, 2011

And they’ve found another one. Yup, Colombian authorities just seized a $ 2 million, 100-foot long, fully submersible submarine built by the cartels to smuggle drugs under the ocean surface.

Apparently the boat had two diesel engines and navigation gear allowing it to cruise about 30 feet below the ocean’s surface while carrying four people and eight tons of cargo. We recently wrote about the fact that these game changing vessels have prompted U.S. Southern Command to start using P-3 Submarine hunter aircraft to combat smugging. Still the question remains; how to you force a sub to surface without killing everyone on board? Do they merely follow the boats until they arrive at their destination?

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

coco February 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Just blow them up, say that we thought they were taliban.

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blight February 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Ping it, then drop grenades, then escalate from there.

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ballbreaker February 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm

and why should you want to surface such a thing without killing everyone in it? just use these subs as practicing targets for live ammo…

its probably less paperwork too

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EJ257 February 16, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Send over dolphins with hammers and start banging away at the hull.

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HiPowerGuy July 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm

YEs, have them tap out some RAP music, or….BRITNEY SPEARS music, that should make them surface :-)

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Robert February 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm

They have to surface so they can be caputured and tried. Thats the law, druggies have constitutional rights to due process, the same as terrorist. The ACLU would have a fit if you started sinking the subs.

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Bob February 16, 2011 at 3:46 pm

What's wrong with just killing them? They're smugglers. If memory serves, we used to treat such types as pirates; you know, back when we executed pirates on the spot, if we went to the trouble of capturing them in the first place.

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jack February 16, 2011 at 5:31 pm

"Force the sub to the surface without destroying it?" Are you kidding me!? Sink em! Taxpayers have spend alot of money over the years on torpedos. Start using some of them.

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MT2/ss February 16, 2011 at 7:06 pm

1…you got to find it… Bet they are not subsafe, or sound isollated…Ummm bet it dont sound like a fishing trawler…wound how long it will take to detect then comming out of port…then again, they might me using surface fleet, (row Boats) to hide under or in with, before they pull the plug….Put the Plug….ummm a 50 cal slug on the top side,,,and a 45 under…presure and vent….how long does it take for a 50 cal hold to put eneough water in the people tube, b4 people start comming out like cockroaches.

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S Higgins February 16, 2011 at 8:22 pm

next time sink the **** thing along with the crew.

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Tall Boot February 17, 2011 at 7:11 am

Stop all the give away programs here in the US and the drug money will go away.The War on Poverty is a joke You cant legislate Charity. The more money we give to the Welfare people the more the Drug Trade increases. We now give them Credit Cards of a sort and instead of of using it to purchase Healthy food they use it for things working people cant afford, and it is not food.When the Demand goes away the Drug Trade will go away.

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TejanoJack February 17, 2011 at 8:24 am

Y'all have the right idea. As an old SQS-26BX Sonarman, I got a kick out of "Old Squid's suggestion. Believe me, full power, beam formed trasmissions at close range will bring 'em to Jesus, but that's just for fun. As a former MI weenie, I understand the value of capturing the operators alive, but if not practical, what's the problem with killing them? Non-American subs in U.S. waters are good ASW training.

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Larry February 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Africa work just June. 30 ft is not deep at all

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Shail February 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

We don't need "big" 12.75-inch ASW torpedoes for these drug subs.
Penn State has been working with the US Navy to develop the CATT Countermeasure Anti Torpedo Torpedo, a relative flyweight of a torpedo, at about 12 feet long, 200 pounds, and around 6&1/2 inches in diameter.
There's also further development called the Common Very Light Weight Torpedo,
to take its capability farther than just a hard kill defensive weapon.

These would be perfectly tested aagainst such small subs as these drug runners.

Would the metal engine blocks of the diesels generate any magnetic signature that can be tracked by ASW aircraft?

Maybe now the USCG can finally get some decent upgrade money for aging ships, and the Navy will finally get serious about the LCS ASW modules.

God forbid terrorists start building these and blowing up ships in US harbors, or a cruise liner, or smuggle in a WMD.

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M167A1 February 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I would submit sir, that your shipmate would find the idea of this happening to smugglers most gratifying.

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Jonathan February 17, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I would hate to be a person with a submarine hobby that gets blown out of the water when someone mistakes you for a drug smuggler. But then again im sure someone who went through all the trouble of building a submarine for legit purposes would try to sail it from mexico to the US without getting permission first.

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Kevin February 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm

A much better question would be "How do you force a sub to surface?"-period. If they can smuggle drugs, they can also smuggle terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, so I wouldn't be too concerned about not killing everyone on board. And really, drugs are just as destructive to our society. Quit worrying about their "rights." They give those up when they chose that life. Kill them all.

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Ghost February 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm

The US is supposed to be at war with Drugs and Drug cartels so why arent we blowing themout of the water?? I wouldnt lose and ounce of sleep over these scum bags dying..

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leesea February 23, 2011 at 10:53 pm

the problem is not so much how to stop/sink a narco sub, it's how to find them in the first place. One can assume several will be enroute at any time, but where will they be and what route will they take? We should not assume that either the USN or USCG have enough assets to blanket a large area of ocean. The P-3s are going away to be replaced with fewer P-8s. The simply are not a lot of good guys out there.

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Provencio April 20, 2011 at 11:58 am

Now I read that most agree to sink it . but do we really wan't a strung out Ora swimming around out there…………………………just saying………………………haha

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Peter April 20, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Yawn, what was the question? Oh yeah unidentified=sink. Save the court costs.

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scubafreak April 21, 2011 at 12:15 am

The problem with simply sinking them is that there are also LEGITEMATE submersable owners in the region as well, and a SINK ON DETECTION order would likely start killing them as well.

I am forced to wonder if the Navy ever deployed a SOSUS network in the gulf. With Venesuela working to obtain Russian diesel subs, and Iranian Mini subs, the navy will need it soon enough. the ability to track druggies would be icing on the cake.

Detect them, drop a SUS charge nearby, and any sub that does not reveal it's identity can be targeted as potentially hostile. repeated refusals to ID could result in them being engaged and destroyed. If anyone complains, tell them that indications were that they were a Venesuelan/Iranian sabotage team, and that the engagement is legal under international law.

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Chevy (USN, RET) April 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Isn't a submerged submarine entering territorial waters considered to be an act of war? If I remember correctly, it is. Sounds like lethal force would be justified. Get close, ping with max power (i.e. boil-water level). Do that a few times. Put some JO’s UI at CIC/Tac and/or Conn. Get them some real world experience. When the drug boat comes up to diesel for a battery charge, put one 5” non-explosive round through the hull. That hopefully will give the narco-crew time enough to abandon ship.

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Old X Subsailor April 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm

After SONAR ping as described by "Old Squid" above, drop a few Practice Depth Charges (PDC) close aboard and stand by locked and loaded. They will be surfacing soon! AHOOOGA, AHOOOGA, AHOOOGHA. SURFACE, SURFACE, SURFACE!!!

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Kelp November 5, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Not really, having all of the hull underwater acts as an excellent centreboard. At worst, currents will cause false speed and drifting estimations, resulting in position errors of a few km at the end of a trip. Repositioning with a GPS receptor or by using lighthouses and a map, at night and while near the coast, shouldn't be a big deal.
The only other "elemental force" that could pose a threat is the wind and the waves it creates. Fully submersible drug-subs use a primitive yet effective snorkel which consists in a reinforced PVC pipe skimming the surface, for both the diesels and the crew. When water starts washing down the tube because of the sea state, all the submarine has to do is getting closer to the surface so that more snorkel length sticks out. That's on a $2000 sub. With 2M, it has to be a lot more advanced.
All in all, the engineering and navigation skill required is comparable to that of an average amateur sailor. Now, evading detection is another story.

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Also MT2/ss November 5, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Another MT2/ss here. 98-04, rode the 37 & 32.

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LMG December 12, 2011 at 1:08 am

These guys on the boats are just poor people that will be replaced by others. Killing them will not solve the problem, it will just make it worse. They have to be captured, sentenced appropriately and the real bad guys need to be found! Its a never ending cycle…

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blight December 12, 2011 at 8:23 am

Which is why the Colombian government is focusing appropriately on nabbing their construction sites.

Makes you wonder if NRO assets could be used to detect narco infrastructure beneath foliage.

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Sailor Sam December 12, 2011 at 1:56 am

Based on the photos of these things, stopping one would be fairly simple. They seem to be diesel powered with no auxiliary electric engines for submerged running. The tower above the conning tower is a snorkel which provides air for the crew and engine. Simply plugging up the snorkel would force the crew of the vessel to surface in short order or suffocate and/or cause the engine to shutdown.

No need to disturb any fish… ;)

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Thinking_ExUSAF December 12, 2011 at 8:15 am

In spite of what the GreenPeacers might say, the fish really would not care. . . :-) There has GOT to be a few old "war surplus" Mk-44s still lying around somewhere. . . . . . . . and THAT particular "fish" would be more than happy to make its presence known.

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Chad Castagana December 23, 2011 at 9:59 pm

The vast majority of these vessels do not qualify for the name of ‘Submarines’.
They do not even qualify for the name: submersibles.
Most of these craft are surface boats that can be submerged for about 90% of their volumn using the cocaine bales are the sole means of ballast.
As for these later vessels, they still need to cruise very close to the surface.
If they only have air brearthing engines for propulsion, they can’t be underwater cruisers. For that matter, the first U-boats of WW1 were not true submarines either.
The Germans intended them as submersible gun platforms, the torpedoes were a secondary weapon.

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ST1(SS)(DV) March 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm

A .50 BMG would probably go through the hull, the engine block, and out the other side of the hull. Save the brass…

"Repel Boarders" on an SQS-26BX ship included 0 dB ODT transmissions, short range scale (fast repetition). You could hear an over-the-horizon transmission standing on a pier. (personal experience, St. Croix, '70s). The effect on a nearby semi-submersible vessel would be similar to sitting inside of a trash can directly in front of the speakers at a heavy metal concert, except nobody is going to let you out.

I'm sure the current equipment is just as capable.
I have been on both sides of an SQS-26 transmission. Take it on faith.. they WILL abandon the vessel.
A Non-lethal solution, put it down as a "training exercise"
Nice hull shape on that one.. looks like a Guppy-II

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Yeah left is right June 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm

F@cking moron. You poor fools do Hitler proud! People have rights, rights you as American citizens supposed to honor… if you don't honor everyone's rights, no matter what you ASSUME that they are carrying on board or not, you are a traitor to our Constitution! You also spit in the face of all those who gave up everything to defend the Constitution! You can NOT pick and choose what rights you will follow or not. Either honor all of it or go move to China!
You poor fools who are being brainwashed to instantly believe that rights only belong to the people or criminals who fall in line with the limited scope of protection… The elites are getting all the drugs they need and are using the military to ensure their supply but you suckers don't want to research the real truth, just KILL'EM ALL, YEAH HOO! Anyone that takes pain meds, smokes grass or wants to be left alone should be killed because the government says so… losers the lot of you here.

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hoohoo June 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Dolphins with high power lasers mounted on their heads!

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HiPowerGuy July 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm

C'mon where is the fun in that…we are MORE CREATIVE than that….at least….we USED to be….:-) I still think the RAP MUSIC is a good idea to make them surface…

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HiPowerGuy July 11, 2013 at 1:24 pm

>Hmmmmmm , well…….you DO have a really good point there…..target practice with live rounds = <paper work……yeah……that is a good point…need to ponder that a bit :-)

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