Narco sub captured off Colombia coast by 18th century-style sailing ship

Three Ecuadorians and one Colombian arrested after Ecuadorian Navy training ship intercepted and captured high-speed drug smuggliing vessel

Rachel Sharp
Tuesday 26 October 2021 15:39
Comments
<p>The Ecuadoran Navy tall ship Guayas in the Mississippi river in 2012</p>

The Ecuadoran Navy tall ship Guayas in the Mississippi river in 2012

Leer en Español

A three-masted sailing ship has intercepted and captured a high-speed narco sub smuggling illegal drugs off the coast of Colombia.

The Ecuadorian Navy announced that its tall training ship Guayas caught the smuggling vessel on Friday while it was in international waters between Colombian territory and the Ecuadorian islands in the Pacific.

The capture took place within just 200 nautical miles of the Colombian exclusive economic zone.

Four crew members, three Ecuadorians and one Colombian, on board the sub were arrested and the vessel was seized. It is now en route to authorities in Ecuador.

The military did not provide any details on the type or quantity of narcotics found on board the vessel, reported CNN.

The Ecuadorian military said the Guayas had been conducting a training exercise at the time when it noticed the smuggling vessel in the waters.

Narco subs, also known as low-profile vessels, are commonly used by drug cartels to smuggle narcotics from Colombia to Central America, before they are transported north into the US.

The vessels are purposely difficult to both track down and capture due to their high speeds and low setting in the water.

The ship’s bulk is typically beneath the waterline and, for the most advanced, it is almost completely submersed with only hatch and air intakes above the waterline.

This can make the vessel undetectable to sight as well as to radar, sonar and infrared systems, posing a challenge for drug enforcement agencies.

Meanwhile, the Guayas is a three-masted ship built used to train naval cadets to sail.

At 257-foot-long (78 meter) with more than 15,000 square feet (1,393 square meter) of sails hanging from three masts, it is designed to carry 80 cadets and a permanent crew of 36.

While this ship was built in 1977, the design is more typical of 18th- and 19th-century style sailing ships than the steam-powered military boats most commonly used today.

But Alessio Patalano, professor of war and strategy at King’s College in London, told CNN this traditional design and sailing is what enabled the Ecuadorian military to outwit the drug smugglers.

“Sailors train regularly to man this ship to the utmost of its capabilities, which means that on favourable weather conditions its sails could propel it well past 10 knots,” Professor Patalano said.

“Whilst this is not a speed comparable to modern ships, when combined with a proficient crew, it would certainly give the ship an edge over four narcos on a home made drug-carrying raft, fast as it could have been.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in