A curious mini-sub in the news again
So in the past week, this bad boy caused a stir in California’s Monterey Bay:
Some were concerned it was a narco-sub or possibly a spy boat or something, as there aren’t a lot of privately owned manned submersibles in circulation. Turns out, it is noting nefarious and is part of a crowdfunded Community Submarines project to get people into man-in-the-sea activities, which is admirable.
As for the boat itself, currently dubbed Noctiluca, it is the old British-built U.S. Submarines S-101, a 32-foot, two-person diesel-electric mini-submersible with a decent performance (range of 200 miles when surfaced, can dive for 72 hrs, 300+ foot operating depth/1250 ft. crush depth due to its 10 mm thick A43 steel pressure hull) built back in 1987.
If she looks familiar, she was used on a contract for the Royal Swedish Navy through the 1990s to serve as an OPFOR of sorts for that country’s coastal forces, mimicking Russian frogmen boats.
Then, in 1998, the Sea Shepherds (Whale Wars) guys picked it up cheap ($225K) from a Norwegian seller and, given a killer whale-style scheme, was intended to harass various fishing enterprises.
Passing into private hands in 2004, it has been up for sale off and on, most recently in Florida for about $80K.
It even showed up in a 2013 episode (S01E06) of the snorable cop show Graceland on the USA network:
Either way, nice to see it still poking around.