Prohibited Speed ​​Boats (LRI)

Maritime interdiction operations are designed to delay, disrupt, or destroy enemy forces or supplies en route to the battlefield before they cause harm to friends. On the other hand, in peacetime, the prohibition of the navy is used as a form of limited force in support of diplomacy and as a means of enforcing economic sanctions against a target. These operations are now mainly carried out against piracy and sea smuggling. Their main instrument of combat is the prohibition speed boat (LRI).

This sea smuggling, and drug trafficking in particular, has generally been defined by the use of a small and fast ship (Go-Fast) equipped with a long, narrow platform and a planed hull that allows it to reach high speeds. The first go-fast boats were used in rum runner corridors during the prohibition period in the USA between 1920 and 1933, where they were able to avoid the coast guard due to their high speed. From the 1960s onwards, smugglers found their ideal sea craft in the ultra-fast cigarette boats, Donald Aronow’s own design for offshore races.

Since the 1980s, the smuggling boat has been a typical part of the conversion from sport fishing boats with a height of between 6.1 and 15.2 m to go-fast. (20 to 50 feet). They have a hull made from a combination of fiberglass and carbon fibers and Kevlar in a deep V configuration, a narrow beam, and are equipped with two or more powerful motors, often delivering more than 750 kW (1,000 hp). You can travel at a speed of more than 80 knots (150 km / h). In calm waters, more than 50 (93) in rough waters and 25 (46) in usual Caribbean waves ranging from 1.5 to 2.1 m. (5 to 7 feet) and heavy enough to sail through higher waves although slower.

The Picuda would be the ultimate expression of Go-Fast, a ship specially built for smuggling with a completely cigarette-like fiberglass hull between 9.75 and 11.58 m. (32 and 38 feet) long which makes it difficult to detect by radars and is lighter, faster, and more spacious than the typical renovated fishing boat. With the Picuda, the drug corridors began to function more and more on the open sea, moving away from the range of the interceptors and distancing themselves from the coast.

Small and powerful LRIs

Several countries responded to this threat by turning captured go-fast boats into their own marine predators, repairing their hulls, and standardizing consoles, equipment, radios, radars and motors. So the Lenca, 9.7 and 11.58 m. (32 and 38 feet) appeared in Honduras and recycled to the Naviego Navy of Nicaragua. These are LRIs whose hulls have been reinforced with Epxida resin and fiberglass, as well as marine grade aluminum elements that allow them to overcome high speeds and have great range on the high seas.

In addition, they are equipped with radar and GPS, which allow them to work in the dark and in poor visibility conditions. Its 2 or 3 Yamaha engines or Mercury Verado propel it at speeds between 35 and 45 knots. With this, the Colombian shipyard Eduardoo, an experienced manufacturer of fishing, diving and leisure boats began to successfully convert their designs to LRI and developed the Patrol line from P-195 to P-450, which is currently in service in Colombia. , Costa Rica and Panama.

Photo: Piraa Boot by Spibo of the Mexican Army (Spibo)

With the aim of the revolutionary wars in the region, the US military tried to focus its resources on special naval wars and to pass its LRIs from the war on the insurrection and arms smuggling to means of intercepting drug trafficking and counter-terrorism. In this way, the Boston Whalers Outrage, the favorites of the SEAL naval commandos, symbolized the LRIs at least 6.11 m. (22 feet) long, is also being adopted by Mexico and Central America, while the Outrage and Guardian by Colombia, Venezuela, and Argentina other countries in the region.

Between 2011 and 2016, US SOUTHCOM had distributed an additional 17 Boston Whaler Justice BW-320s (9.75 m / 32 ft) and 38 BW-370 (11.27 / 38) to their Latin American allies, and in 2016 they were for additional copies responsible in another $ 72 million contract for the same purpose. With that, BW Justice arrived in Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama and other countries. In 2007, Washington implemented the Enduring Friendship’s Maritime Security Strategy to develop and improve the partner country’s capabilities against Picuda and illegal activities by selecting the 13-meter Nor-Tech 43V Interceptor. (43 feet) the length of NaplesYacht, rated for oceanic speeds and maneuverability and shallow water, up to 60 knots thanks to its 3,315 Yanmar engines.

These LRIs have been delivered to various Caribbean countries such as Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. In June 2020, the Ecuadorian Navy in Florida acquired two tactical units and three command and control units from Renegade Powerboats. These boats, 10.35 and 11.58 m. (34 feet and 38 feet) mount Mercury 4T engines that propel them at speeds of up to 40 knots and are essentially similar to the BW and 43V.

Costa Rica will acquire a pair of Midnight Express 39’s and the Panama National Police added two from Donzi Interceptors. In the same range, the Dutch shipyard Damen supplied Honduras, Panama and Venezuela with their LRI D-1102 with a hull of 11 m. (36.1 ft.) Made of fiberglass and carbon-reinforced epoxy. Its 2 Volvo D6-370 engines offer speeds of over 55 knots at a distance of 200 nautical miles.


The LRIs mentioned above are characterized by high maneuverability and extremely fast requirements for hunting smugglers’ boats. However, their length dictates that the radius of action is very short and that they operate near the coast. Hence, they need more size for greater range and ocean capabilities. Between 1999 and 2001 Mexico acquired the CB 90 HMN, a variant of the Swedish Stridsbt 90, ordered 12 first units directly from Dockstavarvet and negotiated the technology transfer for construction at the ASTIMAR N 3 shipyard in Coatzacoalcos.

The CB 90 HMN version is modified for tropical conditions and equipped with 2,800 hp engines for speeds of more than 45 knots. At 15.9 m. (52 feet) in length, it reaches the limits of what is considered an LRI. Years later, Mexico will offer this model to Guatemala and Panama for USD 7 million without reaching an agreement. However, the design will set new standards for an ideal LRI.

Photo: Boat of the Colombian Marines (J. Montes)

In November 2020, SIMA Per announced the construction of two CB-90 and 14-meter Desafiante 45 models. Based on the same CB 90 design, Safe Boats built the RCB, whose acronym stands for River Command Boat. It is a 16.16 m (53 foot) length variation operated by the Coastal Riverine Force (CRF) to operate in shallow waters in the United States. It is divided into two groups, one with seasons 1, 3 and 11 on the west coast and the second with seasons 2, 4, 8 and 10 in the east.

The Argentine Naval Prefecture hired Israel’s Shaldag MK-II to carry out anti-drug operations along the Paran and Uruguay rivers. Rather, they fall into the fast interceptor ship (BRI) category because they have the ability to track smugglers at speeds of up to 45 knots and 25.3 meters. (84 feet) belong to a larger category. With the experience gained with the Dabur Coast Guard in the fight against smuggling and counterterrorism, the Israeli IAI / Ramta developed something bigger, faster and more maneuverable and evolved into the Dvora model.

It flew 21.8 m. (71.5 feet) at 37 knots (69 km / h) and an operating radius of 560 nautical miles. Not being enough, he went to the Super Dvora, 25.4 m. (83 feet), between 45 and 52 knots and range of 700 miles. SK Group’s ISL translated this experience into the Shaldag family, which transitioned from the Mini-Shaldag to the 32.65 m (105 ft) MK-V, which was designed for operation in distant coastal areas and which will be offered in 2020 became Uruguay.

The American equivalent is the Mark IV patrol design from Safe Boats International (SBI), a fast 26 m long interceptor, a modification of the 780 Arcngel used by Mexico and Chile. The latter is 13 m. (43 feet) and features an aluminum hull and pneumatic ring. It is equipped with ballistic protection, armor around the engines and fuel storage and is propelled by 2 MTU at a speed of 45 knots (83 km / h). At 25 knots, it reaches 750 nautical miles.

These vessels of over 15 m. (52 feet) in length show different characteristics in relation to traditional LRIs and are truly a mix of a Coast Guard naval patrol boat and a prohibition speed boat because of their power and size as well as their high speed this allow both roles to perform efficiently. Sure, a larger size also means better combat capability along with a much greater range, but at a higher purchase and logistics cost than a traditional 11-meter LRI. (38 feet) or less.

As authorities improved radar coverage and coordination, as well as funding for short-range interceptors, the North South American cartels began developing semi-submersible boats to bypass controls. They were slow ships but extremely difficult to spot because 80 to 85% of their hulls are underwater. These now work far off the coast and are therefore inaccessible to most LRIs. This leads to a different type of sea combat that requires different weapons, such as B. Ocean patrols that can act as mother ships for the LRIs.

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