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Old 11-08-2015, 10:34   #1
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Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS)

There has been considerable press lately concerning drug subs, and the challenges of detection and capture. These are vessels with varying degrees of sophistication that are transiting bodies of water that any number of cruisers may be navigating. I assume some of the crews may be armed, and all are highly motivated to avoid detection and capture. My suspicion is that they could potentially be a hazard to cruisers who may encounter one at sea.

Does anyone, hopefully with some degree of expertise beyond watching Rambo movies, have actual suggestions for assisting the US Navy and Coast Guard in tracking these vessels? I'm not suggesting following the SPSS vessels, but in how to efficiently and swiftly communicate at sea with the proper authorities, without making wide ranging and aimless transmissions which could alert drug boat support crews to remove us from threat.

Many of us have high frequency SSB radios, as well as VHF, and some of us have Ham licenses that allow us to use other frequencies for communications. Most of us now have GPS units to accurately provide positions. None of us have the resources the bad guys do to resist hostile intent, so that eliminates (hopefully) the gun threads in supplying their suggestions.

This is a serious question: Who do you call (and on what frequencies) if you run across something suspicious? And having made the connection, what should a responsible skipper do afterwards?
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Old 11-08-2015, 10:44   #2
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Re: Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS)

My gut check would be to get far away, quickly.....if the narcosub isn't being escorted, you might still be nabbed by the feds and have some interesting moments proving you've nothing to do with it. There's always the possibility of there being a bad egg behind a badge, who can make Big Problems for you. I'd be careful about callsigns as well...maybe an email or text message to a less potentially compromised contact would be wise.

p.s. being a notorious "GUN THREAD" type, I don't like your insinuations....save your condemnation for the criminals that acquire and/or use arms illegally (governments and agents thereof included). Let's not go there again, eh?
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Old 11-08-2015, 20:33   #3
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Re: Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS)

Try Googling drug sub images . Interesting pics.

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Old 12-08-2015, 10:20   #4
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Re: Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS)

Well, there are a couple hundred viewers of this thread so far, but no suggestions of a productive nature, only one ominous demi-threat from a "notorious" participant, and a serious question still on the table. I'm still hopeful that someone will have a helpful suggestion.
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Old 12-08-2015, 10:25   #5
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Re: Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy M View Post
Well, there are a couple hundred viewers of this thread so far, but no suggestions of a productive nature, only one ominous demi-threat from a "notorious" participant, and a serious question still on the table. I'm still hopeful that someone will have a helpful suggestion.
My suggestion: Contact the USCG in your area and pose the question to them, then report back here with their answer.
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Old 12-08-2015, 10:31   #6
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Re: Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS)

I would avoid using non encrypted communication. If they have the sophistication to build a sub, you can be certain they have access to electronic espionage technology. If you want to get involved with narcoterrorist reporting, I'd wait until I could reach a consulate.

If you're waiting for somebody to reply to this thread saying "I work for the department of Homeland Security and this is what you should do" don't hold your breath, or regard such a post with suspicion.

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Old 12-08-2015, 13:34   #7
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Re: Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS)

Suspicious Activity - America's Waterway Watch || USCG
Report What You See - America's Waterway Watch || USCG
What Else Should I Do? - America's Waterway Watch || USCG
For More Informaton - America's Waterway Watch || USCG



Quote:
Well, there are a couple hundred viewers of this thread so far, but no suggestions of a productive nature, only one ominous demi-threat from a "notorious" participant, and a serious question still on the table. I'm still hopeful that someone will have a helpful suggestion.
Googled it for you. And since you went there, again, after I asked you not to, here's a freebie for your trouble. No threats intended, and if you let it go, I won't have anything to reply to. Deal?



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Old 13-08-2015, 12:30   #8
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Re: Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS)

From time to time one hears of suspicious boats off South/Central America and the Caribbean approaching and then haring off again. It could be that those are the escort and refueling vessels, checking out potential problems.

As to spotting one of these subs, even the CG and Navy have trouble with that, even with all the fancy gear. The chances are very low, which is how the dopers want it. They don't mind losing the odd sub, and the crews aren't so badly off either. Compared to life in their home countries, US prison with all the perks, and the welfare they can claim after they get out, is a step up.





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Pics were from:
Pictures of the 12,000 lbs of cocaine worth $181 million seized by the Coast Guard after i | Daily Mail Online

Sorry about my snarky tone in my previous comments on this thread, please forgive me; you're right to criticise anyone that would suggest initiating private offensive action against this kind of thing. The folks that rightfully defend themselves are a different breed altogether, but are for that very reason lumped in with the thankfully rare nuts. May your voyages be blissfully peaceful!
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Old 13-08-2015, 13:28   #9
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Re: Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS)

In California we hear we need to dodge capsized Japanese fishing boats, chunks of radioactive piers and now drug subs. I am actually more worried about hitting one than being shot by one. And the chances of that are probably very remote since they are likely avoiding high traffic areas. But you bring up a good point and I hadn't considered it so after some thought, what I will do if I happen to see one AND I think it may pose a threat, is keep going, record the position, time and its apparent direction and speed if possible and continue on. After I feel I am a safe enough distance away, I'll call it in to the Coast Guard. I wonder if they have found any of these subs to be carrying AIS receivers? This link,
Inside Seized Drug-Smuggling Submarines - Photo Essays - TIME
is kind of interesting but I haven't seen any references yet to the submarines shooting at yachts that get too close.
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Old 13-08-2015, 14:01   #10
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Re: Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS)

It would be very difficult for a cruiser to detect a drag sub. They would be very difficult to see from any distance at all, and I doubt these kinds of people would let you get very close. So I don't see this as a particularly likely scenario. However, there are other crimes one might observe at sea, and having a plan to safely report them without calling attention to oneself is a good idea.

The best bet is to use your phone (cell if service is available, satellite if not) if you're worried about communications being intercepted. They are default encrypted.

You could send a DSC urgent message as well via "Ready 21", using the Coast Guard MMSIs for the region you're in, as noted here: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=AboutDSC and pick an obscure VHF channel to speak over. There's no way the "drug boat" would be able to monitor all VHF channels, and they wouldn't intercept the DSC call.

You should consider creating MMSI address book entries for your Coast Guard DSC "Ready 21" watch sector if you think you'll be doing much of this sort of reporting.
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Old 13-08-2015, 16:55   #11
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Re: Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS)

You can also file a suspicious activity report with "America's Waterway Watch" at (877) 249-2824 or by using the USCG app available in the various app stores for mobile devices. Obviously you'd have to be within cell phone range or use a satellite phone to do this.

http://americaswaterwaywatch.uscg.mil
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Old 13-08-2015, 18:55   #12
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Re: Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS)

Just a note about scanning all vhf channels. A $35 vhf from china scans all vhf channels. So can any cheap old radio shack or bearcat scanner. Only takes a fews minutes to program all vhf marine channels.

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