Sea Tigers Submarine Yard – Puthukkudiyiruppu, Sri Lanka – Atlas Obscura

Forgotten Warzone Remnants: Exploring the Remnants of the Tamil Tigers’ Naval Fleet

It’s a forgotten story from a long and cruel civil war. During the Sri Lankan Civil War, the LTTE (a.k.a. the Tamil Tigers) had a formidable naval wing nicknamed the “Sea Tigers”. This powerful organization built a number of impressive vessels, including suicide boats and even submarines.

Recently, a boatyard was discovered in the Mullaitivu district of Sri Lanka’s northeastern coast, showing the astonishing lengths the Tamil Tigers went to build the powerful naval wing. In the boatyard, the Sri Lankan Army discovered four submersibles and semisubmersibles, three mid-construction terrorist suicide boats, a crudely built mini-sub, and an unfinished steel hull of a larger submarine. Beyond these finds, the purpose of the larger submarine remains a mystery.

The Sea Tigers: From Guerrilla Movement to Powerful Naval Wing

Beginning as a small guerrilla movement, the Tamil Tigers became an increasingly sophisticated organization over the decades. This was particularly prominent in their naval wing. With crude weapons, the Sea Tigers managed to construct a wide array of vessels in secret in the jungle.

Various designs emerged out of this endeavor, some functional and some ineffective. Some designs remain mysterious as to their intended purpose. Regardless, the Tamil Tigers had built up a formidable naval force by their retreat, a force that gave them strategic value despite their lack of open ocean capabilities.

The Prison of Unanswered Questions

While some heavy questions still remain about the Sea Tigers’ homemade naval fleet, we can at least explore the remnants of these fascinating vessels. This abandoned boatyard is a piece of hidden history, and it’s a reminder of the technological advancements the Tamil Tigers had achieved during a difficult period of civil war.
Remnants of a war long gone, here we can float around a piece of lost history and piece together what stories these vessels have to tell.


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