What kind of boat would a drug runner need to take on a US Coast Guard cutter & win a firefight?

How large and powerful and well armed would a drug smuggling ship need to be to be able to take on a US Coast Guard cutter and have reasonable expectation of winning that battle?

Is it feasible to construct a ship like this with private resources?

Are we talking like theMedium Endurance Cutters that have 3" canons or the smallerpatrol boats?
For the former they would need to be able to see and engage at about 20 miles. That means a high quality radar set and either a big gun of their own, or anti ship missiles. I’m not sure that is achievable.

For a small* patrol boat they would want to meet or beat its capabilities. So you would want a yacht like this one. That’ll give you a stable platform fast enough to compete with the cutter. I’m sure you could find a cheaper one… but you are still probably looking at high 8 figures just for the boat. Then you would want to upgrade the radar and such. Slap on some 50 cals. My guess is you would want more than the CG boat, odds are your men aren’t as well trained. So let’s call it 4 50 cals. This is achievable… but I’m not sure it is a very good return on investment.

  • still pretty darn big.

As soon as you start firing back, I suspect the call will be made for backup. Do you mean winning against one ship, or making it to landfall without being intercepted and followed or sunk by aircraft, running into a convoy of backup vessels, met at shore by a massive convoy of police and other reinforcements, etc.?

According to wiki, some coast guard helicopters have guns and are equipped with armor. Good luck with your project though.

Win the battle, lose the war. The Coast Guard has backup, and NO ONE is going to let you walk away unchallenged.

It would depend on whether you got in the first shot, wouldn’t it? I assume the Coast Guard doesn’t just open fire on every boat at 20 miles. If you had a deck gun disguised under a tarp or something, you could wait until they were within shouting distance, throw off the tarp and get in a quick shot. At that point it’s a straight-up firefight. You’d need either a lucky first shot, or to have them outgunned, but the radar wouldn’t necessarily enter into it.

I suppose that raises the question of what the procedures are on a cutter when it intercepts another vessel. Do they have their deck gun manned, loaded, and aimed as a precaution, or will you catch them by surprise?

I strongly recommend you read a book called .“Drug Smugglers on Drug Smuggling” by Scott H. Decker and Margaret Townsend. It was written to be adjunct reading for college level courses in criminology, and does not read like a comic book, but it has a lot of good info in it. that the authors were told interviewing drug runners who were arrested and serving hard time.

For one thing, the DEA will not damage a ship unless they know they have a winnable case against the crew. Drug runners have learned to use the most expensive ships they can afford, and have them rebuilt so the contraband compartments cannot be located without doing serious damage to the vessel. If the DEA damages a ship and doesn’t find anythng on board that is incrminating, they have to pay for the damage,and they are reluctant to go into the millions on a wild goose chase.

Drug runners are not afraid of the DEA of the Coast Guard. They are afraid of Bahamian pirates who will seize a suspect ship without caring how much damage they do. So you only need enough firepower to hold them off. But if you’ve got that kind of firepower, the Coast Guard will consider that prima facie evidence that you’re up to no good.

Virtually all the DEA seizures of drug shipments come from stool pigeons, so just make sure you can trust anyone who knows about your drug running. If your crew is secure and faithful, you have nothing to worry about. Big time drug runners are the ones sailing the most luxurious boats into the busiest yacht harbors on busy holiday weekends, waving cheerfully to other boaters as they cruise in, looking totally unnsuspicious.

Caribbean pirates boarded and seized a large Coast Guard cutter in the Robert Benchley book and later movie The Island, but it wasn’t too plausible, to say the least.

It’s not just the equipment, it’s the training of the crew. The Coast Guard has been doing this for a long time so experience would tip the scale in their favor even if the equipment on both sides was equal.

Recall that naval warfare is a complicated, highly-skilled endeavor. The crew of a USCG cutter have been carefully, expensively trained to kill you. (As a last resort, of course - a cutter isn’t a warship.) The officers on that cutter likely spent years at the Coast Guard Academy studying this stuff. Everyone on the ship conducts regular drills for all sorts of contigencies - not just firing the weapons, but damage control, identifying potentially hostile ships, and so on.

Let’s say you’ve got some heavy weapons on your boat. RPGS, machine guns, whatever. What sort of training does your crew have in operating this stuff? Perhaps more important, what sort of training does your crew have in managing battle damage? The cutter’s crew is probably going to keep their shit together even if you blow a big hole in them - you’ll kill some people, but the rest will stay on task, and they’ll be very angry. Does your crew have that kind of discipline?

If you get off a lucky shot - well, congratulations, you got lucky. That happens in war. But I dare say that unless you outgun a USCG cutter by a lot, you’re probably going to die once they start firing back.

Also - heavy weapons are expensive, bulky, and illegal. Every dollar you spend on them comes out of your profit margin. Every cubic meter they take up on your ship is space that isn’t carrying valuable cargo (drugs, trafficking victims, whatever). And the fact these things are illegal means that you’re taking an entirely separate legal risk from your drug-smuggling - and since you need to buy the weapons from someone (as opposed to possibly making your own drugs), the risk of getting caught is even greater.

If you’re planning to fight, you need to commit expensive additional and riskier crimes in outfitting your ships, you can’t carry as many drugs on your ship, and you need to invest a lot more resources in training your crew to use those expensive, bulky, highly illegal weapons. Folly. Absolute folly.

If you start take a shot at a Coast Guard cutter with anything heavy enough to do serious damage it’s only a matter of time before they receive the needed air support to end your reign of terror. That amount of time could probably be measured on a stop watch.

Well, this one is sold now, a minelayer could go to some country that is less than scrupulous for a quick refit and get some spiffy weaponry added. And it was under 200K euros …

Personally I would think it would be easier, wiser, and cheaper, to take your money and put it into making your boat hard to see and fast.

Perhaps a submersible would be the way to go here. Do Coast Guard cutters carry depth charges?

Good thing this isn’t a “need answer fast” question! LOL

My father did anti-drug runner missions on a Treasury Class cutter. That had a six inch gun on the foredeck. Six inches was the diameter of the shell, the casing was about three feet tall. It is not feasible for private resources to build a ship that could support a bigger gun than that. They would have to buy a naval ship from a government. They could also use a ship to ship missile launcher. That would be much more feasible, because they would not need to build it into the ship like a gun and it would be more effective since cutters are not meant for combat with other surface ships. I have not priced a ship to ship missile system lately but it would be feasible that a drug organization would have the resources to buy one. I highly doubt they would have the resources to build one though.