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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Drug Submarine: DEA Provides More Info, Photos

 Lots of pictures from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration accompanying a DEA news release here:
The twin-screw, diesel electric-powered submarine is about 30 meters long and about nine feet high from the deck plates to the ceiling. The sophisticated vessel also has a conning tower, periscope and air conditioning system.

DEA Andean Regional Director Jay Bergman stated: “Traffickers historically employed slow moving fishing boats, sail boats, pleasure craft and subsequently go-fasts. Eventually, when speed no longer won the day, traffickers to avoid detection, turned to parasitic devices on the bottom of ship hulls, towed array devices and ultimately low profile vessels and semi-submersible boats. The advent of the narco-submarine presents new detection challenges for maritime interdiction forces. The submarine’s nautical range, payload capacity and quantum leap in stealth have raised the stakes for the counter-drug forces and the national security community alike.”

The submarine was constructed in a remote jungle environment in an effort to elude law enforcement or military interdiction, and is currently located near a tributary close to the Ecuador/Colombia border. As a result of DEA intelligence, Ecuadorian authorities were able to seize the vessel before it was able to make its maiden voyage. This is the first seizure of a clandestinely constructed fully operational submarine built to facilitate trans-oceanic drug trafficking.
Worth noting:
  1. Interesting camouflage pattern and colors;
  2. Use of commercial off the shelf stuff - like the Humminbird depth finder mounted in the interior (I added a red arrow to point it out - click on the photos to enlarge);
  3. Simplicity of design - not building a nuke submarine here, but a tool that can be expended after a run;
  4. Report here says this sub "cost" $4 million to build;
  5. "Tear drop" shape-- my guess is someone bought a model kit on which to base this design.

UPDATE: We've seen a frame work for a similar shape of a submarine being built by the Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger terrorist group - as seen back in 2009, as seen in the nearby photo:


  1. Anonymous5:07 PM

    That craft is about as sophiscated as a blond with a gold tooth. I wonder who was going to be the skipper, Sean Connery?

  2. Do they have any evidence that these things are sea worthy? Do you think they'll take the captured one out for a spin? Honestly, this fascinates me a little. It's clearly not as sophisticated as midget subs in Iran, North Korea, etc, but it's pretty interesting to know what could happen with some tinkering.

  3. I hope somebody does a complete technical analysis of this machine. One specific question I have is: is it equipped with a snorkel ("snort" in Britspeak)? If not, why not?

    1. so do so not but all that i seen have a snorkel