Seattle-based Coast Guard cutter busts sub packed with cocaine

Seattle-based Coast Guard cutter busts sub packed with cocaine
Coast Guard Cutter Midgett interdicts a 35-foot self-propelled semi-submersible vessel (SPSS) carrying approximately 6,000 kilograms of cocaine on Jan. 20, 2011. The SPSS was located 335-miles off the coast of Costa Rica. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Cutter Midgett.

MORE THAN 335 MILES OFF THE COAST OF COSTA RICA - A boarding team from the Coast Guard Cutter Midgett pulled up alongside the 35-foot-long submarine and tried to hail the crew in both English and Spanish.

Nothing.

For three hours Jan. 20, the boarding crew observed the vehicle, but as night fell, they were called back to the boat for their safety.

Suddenly, the hatch atop the sub swung open. With his hands raised, one of the crewmembers on the sub emerged.

The Midgett crew flew into action. The crews of self-propelled semi-submersible vessels are known to scuttle their vessels upon detection, so the Midgett ordered the sub's crew to the deck of the ship - and prepared to rescue the sub crew from the ocean in the event they sank the boat.

The Midgett took the four sub crewmembers onboard the cutter. The men told the Coast Guard the vessel was from Colombia - and the purpose of their voyage was to transport cocaine.

The next morning, the Coast Guard boarded the vessel and found 300 bales of what was later determined to be cocaine - 6,000 kilograms in all.

All in a day's work for the cutter Midgett. The cuttter's home port is Seattle but came across the sub while returning from a patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The Coast Guard released details of the Jan. 20 bust on March 2.