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The player can start to collect the submarine pieces once he buys the Sonar Collections Dock for $250,000 with any character, completes the mission Monkey Business, and completes the Death at Sea Strangers and Freaks mission as Michael, located at the dock.
Note: The Sonar Collections Dock becomes available to purchase after the mission The Merryweather Heist, It is purchasable by either Michael or Franklin. See Nuclear Waste for information on another collection mission based from this location.
The player then needs to use the Dinghy anchored at the dock to look for the pieces. The boat is equipped with sonar that marks a green search radius on the map called "Wreckage Site", to indicate the general area of the pieces. Once the boat enters the vicinity the precise location of the piece is marked. The player then needs to dive into the ocean and collect the pieces underwater. The submarine piece is always located in the middle of the search radius. There may occasionally be more than one piece in the same vicinity.
Note: There is no need to collect a scuba suit beforehand, as the protagonist will be automatically fitted with the gear once he exits the Dinghy.
During these dives, the player may also find other items such as Body Armor, Health Kits, Weapons, and suitcases containing money. However, the Nuclear Waste barrels will only spawn when using the Minisub, so the player cannot collect both these and the submarine pieces in one trip.
Sharks present a real danger when doing this mission as, unlike the Nuclear Waste pick-ups, the player must exit the safety of the boat to collect the items. Sharks appear as red enemy dots on the radar; if one is near a dive location, the player will need to either stand on the boat and shoot the shark, or leave the area and return. Getting attacked by one will kill the player.
Collecting all 30 pieces will require the player to circumnavigate the entire island, with pieces located from Paleto Bay to the Los Santos docks. If playing as Michael or Trevor while still exiled from Los Santos, an additional danger comes from Martin Madrazo's men, who will attack the character on sight if they enter the city; unlike the sub, the character is fully exposed in the Dinghy and has to come close to the shore to collect some of the pieces, making them vulnerable to being shot at from the shore.
Any of the three protagonists can collect the pieces, however only Michael can return then to Abigail. The mission What Lies Beneath is immediately unlocked once all 30 pieces are collected.
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- Although the player only receive $10 for collecting all the Submarine Pieces, high concentrations of weapons, armor, health kits and hidden packages can be found near the locations of some submarine parts, making the trip well worthwhile.
- While the green search circles only appear while in the dinghy, white sonar rings and audible pings occur when any character is nearby, whether swimming, in another watercraft, or even driving by on land if the piece is close by.
- An internet article from Public Liberty Online published after the mission Blitz Play mentions the Submarine Pieces; the article reports on the death of Frank Mathers while he was testing a submarine, and mentions that the submarine broke apart spreading its pieces across the ocean.