The guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), in accordance with international law, boarded a stateless dhow off the coast of Somalia and interdicted an illicit shipment of weapons and weapon components, Feb. 12. U.S. Navy Photo

U.S. Navy Destroyer Seizes Weapons Cache from Dhows Off Somalia

Mike Schuler
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February 16, 2021

A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer has seized a cache of illicit of weapons from two dhows in international waters off the coast of Somalia.

The seizures took place February 11 and 12 by the USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81).

The Navy said the cache included thousands of AK-47 assault rifles, light machine guns, heavy sniper rifles, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, along with components such as barrels, stocks, optical scopes and weapon systems.

The dhows were discovered as part of the U.S. Navy’s regular maritime security operations in the region to ensure the free flow of commerce and disrupt the transport of illicit cargo. A boarding team from the Churchill discovered the weapons during a flag verification boarding in accordance with international law and in international waters.

The Navy said the original source of the weapons has not yet been determined.

U.S. Navy Photo

“We are proud of the combined efforts of the AIT and Churchill crew members for executing dynamic and demanding boardings,” said Lt. Travis Dopp, Assistant AIT Leader aboard Churchill. “We are proud to have a positive impact on the safety and security of coalition forces by interdicting shipments of lethal aid.”

No arrests were made. The Navy said the dhow crews were provided food and water before being released.

U.S. Navy Photo

The USS Winston S. Churchill departed Norfolk, Virginia, in August for a regularly-scheduled deployment to maintain maritime security and ensure the freedom of navigation in critical waterways within the U.S. 5th Fleet, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain.

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