See? See! See?
Latin American drug smugglers are stepping up their use of small, hand-made mini-subs in order to dodge U.S. military patrols in the eastern Pacific. The Coast Guard detected just 23 mini-subs between 2001 and 2007. This number "ballooned" to some 60 subs so far this year, according to Coastie Commander Cameron Naron. He estimates that two or three subs make the trip from Colombia to the U.S. every week, each carrying as much as 10 tons of drugs.
"Once perceived as impractical and risky smuggling tools," mini-subs are becoming increasingly sophisticated, Naron says, with combined steel-and-fiberglass hulls and radio suites rivaling commercial vessels. The Coast Guard believes the vessels are manufactured in rebel-controlled Colombian jungles, but where the designs come from, Naron can't say. "If you had that information, we'd be very interested," he told participants of a Pentagon-sponsored teleconference this morning.
Mini-sub "interdiction is dangerous business," Naron says. On September 13, a Navy patrol plane detected a 15-foot drug sub off the coast of Guatemala and a Navy frigate launched a Coast Guard boarding team to investigate. The team climbed aboard the sub's flat hull and knocked on the hatch, at which point the "startled smugglers attempted throw our personnel into the sea by backing down the [sub's] engines quickly," Naron recalls. "This maneuver nearly threw our people" off the sub, into its propeller. "They had to cling to the exhaust pipe."
Naron says Navy patrol planes are the primary means of detecting the subs, but sometimes a Navy or Coast Guard ship "gets lucky" and stumbles upon one. To boost efforts to crack down on drug-sub use, Congress last night passed legislation making it illegal for anyone to operate a "stateless" mini-sub on an international voyage.
And now you know why the Admiral Hassenpfeffer is so important. We are a prepared and ready ship with a 5 inch gun that can throw shells about the water like a proper fighting ship. I have ordered that more armor plating be added to the bridge area, which is my command post. Mr. Peej is quickly becoming a reliable number four. I have promoted Eva over him, because of his insubordination. And since Miranda is the only one who knows rudimentary navigation and how to pilot the ship, she is number two.
As we approach New York City and put into port this afternoon, I plan to find a crew of scurvy dogs and salty ones, too. I plan to find men (or perhaps some women who look like the lovely Eva who joined us in Groton when her "husband" failed to pay the fees for "importing" her to this country to be his mail-order bride) who will sail with me on the Admiral Hassenpfeffer to the Caribbean, where we will patrol the warm waters and alert the authorities to the presence of drug running submarines.
We lost three more depth charges yesterday. Stupid whales!
In other news, we have plenty of fish to eat. Some of it is kind of, well, pulverized.