Thousands of AK-47 assault rifles sit on the flight deck of guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) during an inventory process, Jan. 7. U.S. naval forces seized 2,116 AK-47 assault rifles from a fishing vessel transiting along a maritime route from Iran to Yemen. U.S. Navy Photo

U.S. Navy Seizes More Than 2,000 AK-47’s from Fishing Vessel in Gulf of Oman

Mike Schuler
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January 10, 2023

The U.S. Navy has seized more than 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles believed to be bound for Yemen from a fishing vessel in international waters in the Gulf of Oman, marking the third such weapons seizure in just two months.

The discovery and seizure was made by a U.S. Navy boarding team from patrol coastal ship USS Chinook (PC 9) with support from USS Monsoon (PC 4) and guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68). 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.

The final tally came in at 2,116 AK-47s.

“This shipment is part of a continued pattern of destabilizing activity from Iran,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “These threats have our attention. We remain vigilant in detecting any maritime activity that impedes freedom of navigation or compromises regional security.”

A boarding team from patrol coastal ship USS Chinook (PC 9) approaches a fishing vessel in international waters of the Gulf of Oman, Jan. 6. U.S. naval forces seized 2,116 AK-47 assault rifles from a fishing vessel transiting along a maritime route from Iran to Yemen. (Photo by U.S. Navy)

The direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law.

In the past two months, two other fishing vessels in the Gulf of Oman smuggling lethal aid from Iran to Yemen.

U.S. Navy Photo

In the two other incidents, forces operating from expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) seized more than 1 million rounds of ammunition, as well as fuses and propellants for rockets back on December 1. Weeks earlier, on November 8, The Sullivans, USS Hurricane (PC 3) and U.S. Coast Guard ship USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146) confiscated a huge cache of more than 70 tons of ammonium perchlorate, a powerful oxidizer commonly used to make rocket and missile fuel, as well as 100 tons of urea fertilizer.

“The illegal flow of weapons through international waterways has a destabilizing effect on the region,” said Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, CENTCOM commander. “Alongside our partner forces, CENTCOM will deter and interdict this kind of lethal material into the region whether it comes by air, land, or sea.”

The Navy said the transfer of this latest fishing vessel and its crew for repatriation is in progress.

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