An Update on Narco Submarines and Maritime Law Enforcement Agencies’ Efforts to Thwart Their Operational Effectiveness

Document Type



Politics and Economics (CGU)

Publication Date



Defense and Security Studies


During recent months, media outlets have dedicated special coverage to the latest narco submarine seizures carried out by the U.S. Coast Guard and other partner agencies. In our 2015 Foreign Military Studies Office report, Narco-Submarines: Specially Fabricated Vessels Used for Drug Smuggling Purposes, we discussed the strategic implications associated with this innovative method of transporting narcotics. We explained that narco submarines originated in the early 1990s and have been used since then as an alternative to other less covert methods of distribution. Over time, narco submarines’ design, features, and technical capabilities have continued to evolve. This advancement in technology has certainly presented challenges to law enforcement authorities and militaries. Nonetheless, in spite of the evolution of narco submarine technology, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy have developed their own sophisticated set of technologies which allows them to improve their ability to detect and capture these vessels.

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© 2015 Small Wars Foundation

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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