The U.S. Navy seizes weapons from a fishing vessel in the
Vessels of the U.S. 5th Fleet seized approximately 1,400 AK-47 assault rifles and 226,600 rounds from a stateless fishing vessel during a flag check boarding under customary international law in the North Sea of Arabia, December 20.
The United States Navy coastal patrol vessels USS Tempest (PC 2) and USS Typhoon (PC 5) found the weapons during a search by on-board personnel of the United States Coast Guard. The illicit weapons and ammunition were then transported to the guided-missile destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG 77) where they await final disposal.
The stateless vessel is said to have originated in Iran and is believed to have transited international waters along a route historically used for smuggling arms illegally to the Houthis in Yemen. The direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis violates UN Security Council resolutions and US sanctions.
All five of the ship’s crew have identified themselves as Yemeni nationals and will be returned to Yemen.
After removing the crew and illegal cargo, US Naval Forces determined the stateless vessel to pose a danger to commercial shipping and sank it.
U.S. navies regularly conduct maritime security operations in the Middle East to ensure the free flow of legitimate trade and disrupt the movement of illicit goods that often fund terrorism and other illegal activities. U.S. Navy warships operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area seized approximately 8,700 illicit weapons in 2021.
The guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) seized dozens of Russian-made advanced anti-tank guided missiles, thousands of Chinese Type 56 assault rifles and hundreds of PKM machine guns, sniper rifles and launchers. Rocket-propelled grenades from a stateless ship transiting through the northern Arabian Sea in May.
In February, the guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) seized a cache of weapons off the coast of Somalia, including thousands of AK-47 assault rifles, light machine guns, sniper rifles. heavy, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and crew served as weapons. The inventory also included barrels, butts, optical scopes and weapon systems.
The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations covers approximately 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three points of critical bottlenecks in the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb.