Drug Subs



A significant challenge to DHS and the USCG is the sophistication of the tools the bad guys have available to penetrate the United States.  While there is constant arguing about introducing new capabilities through the Congress and into the force, the bad guys do not have such procurement problems.  They develop and buy advanced capabilities.

The U.S. Coast Guard stopped a drug-smuggling submarine in the Western Caribbean earlier this month. The crew of a C-130 Hercules plane spotted the self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessel on September 17th. They radioed the crew of the Cutter Mohawk, which tracked down the drug sub and detained its crew.

The Coast Guard was able to seize some cocaine from the vessel before it sank – part of the sinking was captured on video.

Both the drugs and the crew were turned over to federal law enforcement.

It’s only the second drug sub incident in the Western Caribbean. Coast Guard officials say the subs are usually built in the jungles of South America and normally less than 100 feet long. They typically carry four or five crew members and can haul up to 10 metric tons of cargo up to 5,000 miles.

They’re also built to be quickly sunk at the first sight of law enforcement, making recovery of the cargo difficult.

The SPSS vessels are commonly used in the Eastern Pacific to smuggle drugs, according to the Coast Guard.


(Just click on the box on the bottom right of the video to make it a full screen view)

For a look at how to enhance joint capabilities please read our story about the 12th Air Force and the Dominican Republic