Legal status of semi-submarines

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by SamC, Sep 16, 2019 at 11:22 PM.

  1. SamC
    Joined: Sep 2019
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    Location: Fulton county Ga

    SamC Junior Member

    I recently learned about semi-subs and how passengers can explore underwater without the vehicle completely submerging and that they are commonly used in the tourism industry. I also discovered that they are used to traffic drugs and other illegal items because they are hard to detect. As someone who is interested in subarines (including anything else naudical) I immediately wanted to know if this was something I could own in the future, but couldn't find much info ecept that intentionally semi subs don't have there own cadegory, which is why I am here.

    My question is, can ordenary cittizens own and operate semi submarines? If so, are they treated like any other vessel?

    Thanks,
    Sam
     
  2. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    Yeah, you WILL need to satisfy local marine authorities before you dive.
    "If you build your own sub, you’ll need to get Coast Guard approval before diving at sea. You don’t need preapproval to explore a lake, but it’s a good idea to contact the FBI beforehand anyway. Recreational submarining is still extremely rare, and local people have been known to call the police when they see a mysterious vessel surface near their vacation home."
    Can you buy your own submarine? https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2011/09/can-you-buy-your-own-submarine.html

    The thing is, not only are they concerned about you drowning, there is the navigation problems you create by going underwater, the insurance obligations with other marine craft, the cost of recovering your body and the possible navigation hazard your sunken sub creates, and a whole range of problems if you want to take anyone with you.

    The good news is that there is a large number of underwater enthusiasts, and lots of resources to help you. For example, you can get training at submarine pilot training U-Boat Worx https://www.uboatworx.com/training

    The bad news is, it's a $50,000 minimum hobby.
    The cheapest way, as you mentioned, is the semi-submersible.
    Check out
    Semi-submarine - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-submarine

    This lady enthusiasts story is a good read
    The Wacky, Risky World Of DIY Submarines https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2018/08/the-wacky-risky-world-of-diy-submarines/

    Finally, if anyone contacts you about a concrete submarine, let us know.
    There are quite a few "old hands" who would be very interested.

    I just accidentally found my WINNING evaluation of one project
    Concrete submarine https://www.boatdesign.net/threads/concrete-submarine.24361/page-40#post-318111

    This is one of the all-time great threads on this Forum, well worth a read.
     
  3. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Semi-submersible, as far as I know, has not been legally defined. Any vessel has part of its hull submerged, and there are no laws preventing see-through sections on the hull. The only difference is the ratio of submerged to nonsubmerged parts.
     
  4. TANSL
    Joined: Sep 2011
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    TANSL Senior Member

    These laws may not exist, I do not know, what I do know is that there are very strict rules that those windows must comply, their shape and size, their location in the hull, their material, ... not to mention the requirements these hulls must comply, in relation to stability after damage or flood lengths of its compartments.
    What is the value of that ratio that allows a ship to be defined as "semi-submersible"?
    Good discovery
     
  5. JSL
    Joined: Nov 2012
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    JSL Senior Member

    Also - read up on the 'Collision Regulations' regarding lights, shapes, rules, etc
    . You are still a surface vessel and would have to comply.
     
  6. TANSL
    Joined: Sep 2011
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    TANSL Senior Member

    Indeed, ColReg, SOLAS, Marpol, and several other regulations. Not laws.
     
  7. jehardiman
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    Location: Port Orchard, Washington, USA

    jehardiman Senior Member

    Yep, per the COLREGs the submarine is always the give way vessel (except national vessels operating in posted and active submarine operating areas where all vessels are to stay clear of the range vessel), even with seaplanes. And remember Rule 2, 5, and 7 apply regardless of your vessel.
     
  8. SamC
    Joined: Sep 2019
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    Location: Fulton county Ga

    SamC Junior Member

    Thanks for all the good answers. So what if someone built a DIY submarine out of a propane tank and stuff lying around (people have actually done that) and wanted to legaly use it. What would he have to do? And no I'm not planning on building my own sub
     
  9. jehardiman
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    Location: Port Orchard, Washington, USA

    jehardiman Senior Member

    It has to be registered/documented like any other vessel, and follow all other rules and regulations, some of which it can't while submerged. The USCG has been handling this problem since the early 1960's when the DSVs, CUBMARINE(S), and other first home builds appeared. There are so many tourist submarines operating now that the USCG even has a guidance document for it: https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/DCO Documents/5p/5ps/NVIC/1993/n5-93.pdf. Generally, above all other things, the USCG is going to want to see and approve your dive area as well as your rescue and operational plans. As identified in 1.B.4 of the referenced guidance:
     
    rwatson likes this.

  10. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    This guy that did it, ran it in his own dam. Thats one solution.
     
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