Photograph from U.S.Coast Guard
In a daring operation at sea, in the dark hours on September 13, U.S.Coast Guard (USCG) law enforcement detachment 404 embarked on USS McInerney, boarded a stateless, Self Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS) vessel carrying seven tons of cocaine. The SPSS was about 350 miles west of Guatemala in the Pacific Ocean.
On noticing the boarding team of USCG onboard, the four smugglers of SPSS tried to throw the boarding team in to the sea by reversing the engines at high speed. As that was not successful, the smugglers further tried to scuttle the SPSS by opening underwater valves. USCG foiled their attempt successfully, seized the vessel and the vessel is being taken in tow by the USS McInerney. Read more from U.S Coast Guard and CNN.
Here are some interesting facts and photographs on Self Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS) from Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South:
- SPSS: a surface vessel of 40 to 80 feet in length with very low freeboard (exposed height above water line) of typically 18 inches. Presently used for drug smuggling.
- Material: made out of Fiberglass/wood making it difficult to be detected at sea visually due to very low freeboard and also by Radar.
- Propulsion: self propelled by single or twin diesel engines with fuel storing capacity of not less than 1500 gallons.
- Speed and Range: around 6 knots and approximately 2000 miles.
- Capacity: can accommodate up to four persons and can carry cargo (cocaine) of 4 to 12 metric tons depending on the size.
- Control and Communication: Manual or Remote controlled, uses Global Positioning System (GPS), compact and powerful communication equipment.
- Construction Site,Time and Cost: they are home made and not constructed at standard shipyards, about one year it takes for construction and costs not less than $ 2 million USD.
- Future developments: as SPSS has proved to be very reliable for smuggling since 1990s, now steel is also used for construction of SPSS to make it more stronger to improve seaworthiness and bigger to increase cargo carrying capacity.
Here are photographs of SPSS:
Surface view of SPSS
SPSS view on shore
Underwater view of SPSS
Construction site for SPSS
The biggest threat foreseen from SPSS:
If smugglers can carry successfully tons of cocaine and land it at their will, nothing stops terrorists to acquire this technology or buy this SPSS to meet their requirements as land based and air based terrorism is becoming difficult due to strict vigilance. Read more from Jane’s Security News. Also read the views of Admiral James Stavridis USN here.
An interesting video clip on Self Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS) is here.
Update: September 16
USCG has released the photographs of the 59 foot steel and fiberglass SPSS seized on September 13 with seven tons of cocaine. Here are some photographs released by USCG.
SPSS Cargo hold and very low freeboard of SPSS
SPSS Communication equipment and scuttle valve to sink SPSS
SPSS Steering, Engine Control and Magnetic Compass
Update: September 19
The photograph of USS McInerney towing the SPSS is here at U.S Navy.
Update: September 20
The above image is from USCG and more information on SPSS is here.
Did you enjoy this article? Please subscribe to RSS Feed to receive all the updates!
- No related posts found