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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Navy and Coast Guard Catch Drug Running Self-Propelled Semi Submersible

Another drug running semi-submersible caught by the U.S. Navy as set out here:
USS MCINERNEY, Eastern Pacific Ocean – Sailors from USS McInerney (FFG 8) and U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 404 (LEDET) intercepted a self-propelled semi submersible (SPSS) carrying seven tons of cocaine Sept. 13.

Sailors intercepted the 59-foot SPSS (see more about the SPSS threat) in a nighttime interdiction 350 miles off the coast of Guatemala, capturing four suspected narcotics smugglers from Colombia and the large cargo of cocaine before the SPSS could be scuttled.

An SPSS is capable of carrying 3-5 metric tons of cocaine and has no maritime use other than the covert transport of narcotics or other illegal goods. An SPSS is between 25-65 feet long, travel at speeds up to 13 knots, carry 4-5 crewmembers, and can travel up to 2,500 nautical miles without refueling.

An SPSS is dangerous to capture since it is designed with valves that smugglers can use to quickly flood and sink the vessel, posing a risk to boarding teams attempting to capture it.
Southern Command Fact Sheet on The Self-Propelled Semi-Submersibles Threat here.
In addition to their stealthy design, SPSS are built to be easily sunk when detected by counterdrug forces, making contraband recovery impossible and criminal prosecution more difficult.
Update: Fixed the title to reflect joint op.

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