100-foot-long narco sub found in Colombia
The homemade drug submarine was found in a rural area of Timbiqui.
February 15th, 2011
06:31 AM ET

100-foot-long narco sub found in Colombia

The Colombian military has seized a 100-foot-long submarine capable of transporting eight tons of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico, news reports say.

The vessel was found in a jungle area in Timbiqui in southwestern Colombia on Sunday, according to a report from RTT News.

Colombian navy officials said the homemade sub had two diesel engines and sophisticated navigational equipment that would enable it to travel to Mexico while remaining up to 30 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

The vessel was set up for a crew of four but was unoccupied when found,  RTT reported. Officials estimated it would have cost $2 million to build.

The submarine is just the latest example of crafts smugglers have made to try to get their illicit cargo past law enforcement.

Last year, VBS.TV got access to the Colombian naval base where many captured smuggling vessels are taken.

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Filed under: Colombia • Crime • Drugs • Mexico • World
soundoff (369 Responses)
  1. TheMovieFan

    Meant for A. Goodwin. CNN needs to fix the Reply link.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DAVID

    Narco Sub? Isn't that one of those Subway Five Dollar Foot Longs?

    February 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. spoo

    what makes them believe that this sub is used to transport drugs to mexico and not to the US ? maybe this sub was made in the US, and there could be already a whole fleet doing the tryp back and forth. maybe they stop in mexico for refueling only.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. beasterdamas

    Legalize all drugs and watch these problems go away in ways you can't imagine...

    February 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. theguy

    Here's some math. Research shows that roughly 7% of the adult population of the USA are regular (daily) Marijuana smokers. To make the math easy and please doubters, let's use 5%. There are around 300 million adults in the USA in typical adult-use ages, primarily 18-45 (mainly males, btw). That totals 15 million daily pot smokers. Conservatively, these daily pot smokers might consume an ounce per month each, at a cost of an average of $250. Hold your breath: that brings us to $375 million, per month. These are very conservative numbers, the reality is estimated to be closer to half a billion dollars a MONTH, just for weed, just for the guy at work everyone knows that smokes a joint after work. Now, start applying the idea of tapping that market, instead of spending nearly as much fighting it- an unwinnable battle. Food for thought.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. yeayeayea

    GPS doesn't work 30 feet underwater. The signal is too weak. So, they may be referring to an inertial navigation system. Just wondering how they'd get/make that...

    February 15, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. yeayeayea

    Pretty sure it'd be near impossible to hide an illegal submarine constructing facility anywhere in the usa.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. yallarsub

    Abandoned for the newer model ( old one has cassette player).

    February 15, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob

    Don't worry, they are taking their talents to South Beach.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Marco

    So we sailed up to the sun
    Till we found the sea of green
    And we lived beneath the waves
    In our yellow submarine

    We all live in a yellow submarine
    Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
    We all live in a yellow submarine
    Yellow submarine, yellow submarine

    February 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Myshkin

    Was this thing actually capable of running underwater? It says nothing about an electric motor and battery, as you can't run a diesel underwater. It may have just been designed to run on the surface, then fill a ballast tank to submerge if it needs to hide.

    Lets hope they don't have a particle physicist lying around, they may have their own manhattan project going... hah.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • jujubeans

      read the article, it says 30 feet under water

      February 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigBen

      I'm pretty sure it is deisel-electric. I'm just guessing that a drug lord spending 12 million would have made sure the thing is able to travel underwater.

      February 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Schepke


      It could run underwater, as long as the diesel engine fumes have a way out. If this is the case, I'm assuming it had something very similar to what German subs had in WWII, the schnorkel.

      February 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • tim

      The diesel engines where probably mostly used to recharge batteries. They also probably ran close to the surface most times and in open ocean. Probably only submerged when necessary such as with when they came close to the shore or when other ships came close. Diesels sounds are pretty distinctive I am pretty certain the US navy can hear that with various equipment. I am betting that they ran with a legit surface ship and if the coast guard or some authority came close they went silent and the surface ship would pass as the radar/ sonar/diesel sounds detected.

      February 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Myshikin is correct. Traditional military subs (back in the day) were diesel-electric. Running diesel engines underwater is never done because you a) need a continuous air supply for combution and b) need a place to release the exhaust fumes resulting from combustion. This sub either rides on the surface or has an electric engine that was not discussed in the article. My guess is the former of the two.

      February 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      I retract my earlier statement. If it has a snorkel then it can run diesel engines underwater.

      February 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • DougK

      Though that is what a snorkel is for. Modern diesel-electrics (ie: Russian Kilo export types) can run on diesel while about 60-70' underwater, with the snorkel up. While this does make it visible, both with your eyes, and with surface scan radar, a large number of countries' coast guards are probably not equipped for sub hunting, surface search radar, etc. Their militaries, maybe, but not their coast guards.

      February 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • AndyTheGameInventor

      @Myshkin is right, you can't run a diesel engine underwater, even briefly, except at "snorkel depth" because the engine, just like your car, needs large amounts of oxygen for combustion. However it might be possible to have a large snorkel tube 30 feet long to suck in the air. Or, perhaps this sub just ran on the surface at night and hid underwater during the day.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      Actually, you can run an internal combustion engine underwater ... all you need is a snorkel.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • rich phitzwell

      Although its doubtful this little guy has the technology, there is a new breed of diesel subs that run off of liquid o2 that can run up to about a month underwater which is a huge improvement over older technologies that can only run a couple of hours at a time.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clairebell

      Ah, the entire third paragraph answers your question and clarifies that it's diesel? Did you even read the article or just have a burning need to make a quip about a particle phycist?

      February 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul Davis

      You can run a diesel underwater if you have a proper snorkel for it – which I'm assuming is what they would use. That's probably to some extent what explains the depth limitation.. That and pressure, but they would go cheap and use a snorkel I'm certain.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • sailor

      There is no way this could dive. No signs of ballats, no diving planes. Columbian Navy who reported that are incomptetent and the journalists who published it are brain-dead. It's just a low-profile suface vessel.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      Sailor- before you go critiquing others read the article and learn how to spell Colombia!

      February 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Darkness

      There are no signs of the things you expect for a diving machine, no air vents, or planes, for example. If it has diesels then its going to be fast(ish) and can hang low in the water. I'll bet this is designed to be towed as far as possible (uses less fuel and is lighter while remaining unseen) then run under its own power with as a low a profile as possible.
      Having said that this feels like the kind of picture I'd have expected on April 1st.

      February 15, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • eddy

      true. myshkin. then how was it gonna produce oxigen? in the other hand if that thing was usefull, for two millions dollars, seems like the makers should be thinking of making them legally.

      February 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • bailoutsos

      Sheen able to do crack 'socially' and wants his custom made sub back.

      February 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • prettysure

      C'mon people, it runs on cocaine. They transport the diesel into the jungle to assist in the cocaine productions.

      February 15, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • G5

      Unfortunately It can run diesel.. They fabricate in such a way that the exhaust is blow out the top of the stern. This is not the first & it wont be the last!!

      February 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Couldn't they just buy a sub? surplus? I see lot's sitting around in Kiev.

      February 15, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      I also believe that this was diesel-electric meaning that it would have to come close to the surface to run a diesel generator. This would in turn charge batteries. It could then operate further below the surface using the batteries. Running diesel without snorkeling is not a good idea as it would have to consume the oxygen in the sub for combustion. You don’t want that. That is why diesel-electric subs (without AIP which would be expensive) are forced to come up to the surface to run diesel.

      February 15, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bristoll

      It's not 'common' knowledge, especially amongst reporters, the inner workings of submarines... That, and most wouldn't bother to think "Hey, doesn't diesel need oxygen to burn?"

      It's either got batteries/electric or a >30' snorkle array.

      February 15, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bristoll

      Oh, and that's some very sloppy fiberglass work, even for having come from the middle of the jungle.

      February 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • MDS in AK

      WWII subs ran on diesel; had an uncle on one, out of Dutch Harbor. Put yer tinfoil away, hah.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Hum, you can most certainly have a diesel underwater sir. Take me word for it

      February 15, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marci

      And oxygen can be produced underwater too. This comment is silly.

      February 15, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • juicius

      As others have said, it probably had snorkel for diesel operation. Not sure about the battery since that does complicate the matter and take up room. Traveling in merchant lanes and primarily operating at night, it's probably pretty hard to detect. If the captain was brave/good/stupid enough, it could shadow a freighter with snorkel up during day time. I don't think it could be identified/distinguished via passive sonar (basically listening for engine/screw sound). Active sonar would find it, but ocean is a pretty big place.

      The biggest weakness of something like this is the wake the snorkel would leave in the water. A Coast Guard plane could spot that pretty quickly. I read that they spot the wake long before they can see the ship. Night running would take care of that though.

      February 15, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • kurt

      My father was in the subs in ww2 if you look at the picture you can see a large stack on the counting tower thats the snorkel not 30' but just so you can't see the larger part of the sub if they spent the cash for 2@ diesels they had electric power to dive

      February 15, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • RCC6788

      Yes, The U.S. Navy and the Columbian have caught others both bigger and smaller. That is why the Navy runs anti-submarine ops in the southern gulf and caribeean.

      February 17, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • J'Can

      The fact that you spelled the word Colombian as "Columbian", clearly shows your level of competence and how little you know about this topic.

      February 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Fidelis Ivare

    nigerian navy do not have a sub.....columbian drug cartel could build one for 2million dollars.!!

    February 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Catalina

      Funny how you all know so much about submarines and technology but can't even spell Colombia right!!!

      February 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      You don't need to spell Colombia correctly to be deemed intelligent. It's easily mixed up with Columbia, which is a university in New York. I mean, if you spell it correctly, you're probably from Colombia itself. Then you'd be stupid anyway.

      February 16, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  13. buffoon

    Where could one buy one or two, if the second one is at 50% off! A spare is good in case one gets exposed.

    Of course, using them in a legal fashion is the primary objective. 🙂

    February 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. saywhat

    I'd like to know how one gets from Colombia to Mexico using the Pacific ocean???

    February 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigBen

      Look at a map. Colombia has coastline on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans just like Mexico. I guess it would just depend on what side of the country it is launched from.

      February 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Um, look at a map. Colombia has beaches on both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

      February 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • try geography

      Ummm, how else would you propose a submarine get from Columbia to Mexico?? Certainly not via the Atlantic...

      February 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • freeup

      Swim, boat, submarine... take your pick.

      February 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • fauxbacon

      Umm...looking at a map and realizing that you can go either by the Pacific Ocean or the Carribean Sea...

      February 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • T.K. Tait

      Since Columbia's northern borders are on both sides of Central America, 2 thirds of it on the Pacific side, it shouldn't be too difficult to pull off.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • brillow

      duh that would be the suez canal

      February 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      brillow: uhh, I'm pretty sure the Suez Canal is in Egypt.

      Maybe you were referring to the Panama Canal...but that's in Panama.
      I'm going to assume that you were joking 🙂

      February 15, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. The

    All earlier subs were diesel, for further proof go watch the movie "Down Periscope", since reading is not your thing.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • justiniowa

      Diesel for surface running to charge the giant batteries for the electric motors for submersible running. Go read a book instead of getting your "facts" from Hollywood.

      February 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
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