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Guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) and patrol coastal ship USS Hurricane (PC 3) sail in the background as Sailors inventory a large quantity of urea fertilizer and ammonium perchlorate discovered on board a fishing vessel intercepted by U.S. naval forces while transiting international waters in the Gulf of Oman, Nov. 9. (Photo by Sonar Technician (Surface) 1st Class Kevin Frus)
U.S. Navy Confiscates ‘Massive Amounts’ of Explosives from Fishing Vessel in Gulf of Oman
The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet intercepted a fishing vessel attempting to smuggle a “massive amount” of explosive material from Iran to Yemen.
U.S. Coast Guard’s USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146) and guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) interdicted the vessel as it transited international waters in the Gulf of Oman on November 8.
A weeklong search of the vessel assisted by Navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians from the USS Hurricane (PC 3) uncovered more than 70 tons of ammonium perchlorate, a powerful oxidizer commonly used to make rocket and missile fuel as well as explosives. Th Navy said it’s the 5th Fleet’s first-ever interdiction of the material.
The search also found more than 100 tons of urea fertilizer, which is also known for use in explosives.
“This was a massive amount of explosive material, enough to fuel more than a dozen medium-range ballistic missiles depending on the size,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “The unlawful transfer of lethal aid from Iran does not go unnoticed. It is irresponsible, dangerous and leads to violence and instability across the Middle East.”
The vessel and its four Yemeni crew members were intercepted while transiting from Iran along a route historically used to traffic weapons to the Houthis in Yemen in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law, the Navy said.
U.S. forces sank the fishing vessel November 13 because it was a hazard to navigation for commercial shipping. The four crewmembers were transferred to the Yemen Coast Guard at sea in the Gulf of Aden by The Sullivans.
U.S. 5th Fleet previously seized 40 tons of urea fertilizer back in January when guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) and patrol coastal ship USS Chinook (PC 9) interdicted a another fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman that had attempted to smuggle illicit weapons off the coast of Somalia months earlier.
“Alongside our partner forces, CENTCOM is committed to security and stability of the region and to deterring the illegal and destabilizing flow of lethal material into the region over land, in the air, and the sea,” said Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) commander.
The 5th Fleet operating area includes 21 countries, the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Bab al-Mandeb and Suez Canal.
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