U.S. naval forces intercepted a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman on 6 January while transiting international waters along a maritime route from Iran to Yemen – and discovered 2116 AK-47 assault rifles on board.
CAPTION: Thousands of AK-47 assault rifles sit on the flight deck of guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans during a post-seizure inventory process. US Navy photo.
A U.S. Navy boarding team from patrol coastal ship USS Chinook initially discovered and seized the weapons with support from USS Monsoon and guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans.
The intercepted vessel, which was sailing on a route historically used to traffic illicit cargo to the Houthis in Yemen, was crewed by six Yemeni nationals.
Direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis violates UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law.
Transfer of the vessel and its crew for repatriation is in progress.
Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces Vice Admiral Brad Cooper said the shipment was part of a continued pattern of destabilising activity from Iran.
“These threats have our attention,” Vice Admiral Cooper said.
“We remain vigilant in detecting any maritime activity that impedes freedom of navigation or compromises regional security.”
In the past two months, U.S. 5th Fleet has also intercepted two other fishing vessels in the Gulf of Oman smuggling lethal aid from Iran to Yemen.
Forces operating from expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller seized more than 50 tons of ammunition rounds, fuses and propellants for rockets on 1 December.
Weeks earlier, on 8 November, The Sullivans, USS Hurricane and U.S. Coast Guard ship John Scheuerman intercepted more than 70 tons of ammonium perchlorate, a powerful oxidiser commonly used to make rocket and missile fuel, as well as 100 tons of urea fertiliser.