Seattle-based Coast Guard cutter interdicts narco sub

Mar 2, 2011

The Seattle-based Coast Guard Cutter Midgett has returned home from a patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. A highlight of the voyage was the interdiction of a 35-foot-long self-propelled semi-submersible vessel (SPSS) that was carrying about 6,000 kilograms of cocaine. These vessels are also known as narco submarines.

A narco sub can't actually dive under water, but most of the vessel rides below the surface, making it difficult to detect. They're usually made of fiberglass, which is less likely to show up on radar.

Here's the story of the interdiction, as told in a Coast Guard press release:

When law enforcement assets arrive on scene, no movement was visible on the SPSS. Cutter Midgett dispatched a boarding team in its small boat, attempted to hail the vessel in English and Spanish, and knocked on the hull with no response. After three hours alongside the vessel, night had fallen and for the safety of the boarding team it was decided that the vessel board would be delayed until the next day. Suddenly, the hatch atop the central conning tower swung open and hands were visible as one of the crewmembers slowly came out of the SPSS

Cutter Midgett’s law enforcement team closed with the vessel, and ordered all personnel out of the SPSS onto the hull. SPSS crews are known to scuttle their vessels upon evacuation, therefore Cutter Midgett prepared for people to be thrown or to jump into the water. Cutter Midgett immediately put its second small boat in the water, and the two law enforcement teams quickly brought all four SPSS crewmembers safely onboard the cutter.

Once onboard, the SPSS crew stated that the vessel was from Colombia and the purpose of the voyage was to transport cocaine.

The next morning, upon entry into the vessel, an estimated 300 bales of contraband was discovered. The boarding team removed one of the 20 kilogram bales from the SPSS and a sample tested positive for cocaine.