Looking for a bargain submarine? Check out the 32-foot diesel-electric “Marlin”, perhaps the cheapest one-atmosphere sub on the market, now available for the rock-bottom price of $225,000. Built in 1987, she boasts a 200-mile range, “intuitive controls”, and a maximum recommended operating depth of 300 feet. She’ll carry two people and their equipment for up to 72 hours with onboard life support systems, oxygen supply and CO2 air scrubbers.
Not surprisingly, this submarine has had a long, strange journey through multiple owners over the past 29 years. She was originally built by US Submarines, Inc. for the Swedish Navy as a training stand-in for Soviet mini-subs before she was sold to radical environmental activist group Sea Shepherds in 1998.
The Sea Shepherds intended to deploy her against the Makah Tribe’s annual whale hunt, exchanging the submarine’s yellow paint job for an orca-like color scheme by artist George Sumner. The activists intended to scare any gray whales from Neah Bay using underwater speakers and sounds of gray whales being attacked by orca whales.
The Canadian Navy disapproved of the purchase, saying “no one at Sea Shepherd knew anything about operating a submarine and it was ridiculous for Sea Shepherd to acquire one.”
In his typically bombastic fashion, Paul Watson with a now-famous retort, saying, “Since World War II, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has boarded more ships, rammed more ships, engaged in more high seas confrontations and sunk more ships than the Canadian Navy.” But despite his words, the submarine was ultimately only used as an expensive deck prop and sold just a year later.
With the exception of some test dives in Washington and Florida, it appears the Marlin hasn’t done much in the last 17 years. She had one final brush with fame in 2013, playing a narco-sub on the now-canceled television show “Graceland” (USA Network), but little else in the way of regular use beyond test dives in the waters off Washington and her new home in Florida.