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U.S. Navy Seizes Suspected Iranian Arms Shipment Bound for Yemen

A cache of weapons is assembled on the deck of the guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG 107). The weapons were seized from a stateless dhow which was intercepted by the Coastal Patrol ship USS Sirocco (PC 6) on March 28. US Navy Photo

A cache of weapons is assembled on the deck of the guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG 107). The weapons were seized from a stateless dhow which was intercepted by the Coastal Patrol ship USS Sirocco (PC 6) on March 28. US Navy Photo

Two U.S. Navy vessels seized a ship laden with illegal weapons in the Persian Gulf that were bound for Houthi fighters in Yemen, the service announced on Monday.

The stateless dhow was initially intercepted by the Cyclone-class patrol craft USS Sirocco (PC-6) on March 28 and the boarding team discovered 1,500 AK-47s automatic rifles, 200 RPG launchers and 21 .50-caliber machine guns in the hold that had been presumably shipped from Iran, according to the service.

200 RPG launchers as part of the seizure. US Navy Photo

200 RPG launchers as part of the seizure. US Navy Photo

Sirocco called in guided missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG-107) for assistance in seizure and collected the weapons from the dhow, according to a statement from U.S. 5th Fleet.

“This seizure is the latest in a string of illicit weapons shipments assessed by the U.S. to have originated in Iran that were seized in the region by naval forces,” read a Monday statement from the service.
“The weapons are now in U.S. custody awaiting final disposition. The dhow and its crew were allowed to depart once the illicit weapons were seized.”

USS Sirocco (PC 6) assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 55 during a bilateral exercise with the Iraqi Navy. US Navy Photo

USS Sirocco (PC 6) assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 55 during a bilateral exercise with the Iraqi Navy. US Navy Photo

The interdiction of the weapons is the third similar interception since late February by allied forces in the Persian Gulf.

“The Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Darwin intercepted a dhow Feb. 27, confiscating nearly 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 100 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 49 PKM general purpose machine guns, 39 PKM spare barrels and 20 60mm mortar tubes,” said the service.
“A March 20 seizure by the French Navy destroyer FS Provence yielded almost 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 64 Dragunov sniper rifles, nine anti-tank missiles and other associated equipment.”

Sirocco is part of the forward-deployed Cyclone force based out of Bahrain and Gravely is attached to the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

The following is the April 4, 2016 release on the seizure from U.S. 5th Fleet.

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) — For the third time in recent weeks, international naval forces operating in the waters of the Arabian Sea seized a shipment of illicit arms March 28, which the United States assessed originated in Iran and was likely bound for Houthi insurgents in Yemen.

The U.S. Navy Coastal Patrol ship USS Sirocco, operating as part of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, intercepted and seized the shipment of weapons hidden aboard a small, stateless dhow. The illicit cargo included 1,500 AK-47s, 200 RPG launchers and 21 .50 caliber machine guns.

The seizure was supported by USS Gravely (DDG 107), which was directed to the scene by United States Naval Forces Central Command following the discovery of the weapons by Sirocco’s boarding team.

The weapons are now in U.S. custody awaiting final disposition. The dhow and its crew were allowed to depart once the illicit weapons were seized.

This seizure is the latest in a string of illicit weapons shipments assessed by the U.S. to have originated in Iran that were seized in the region by naval forces.

The Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Darwin intercepted a dhow Feb. 27, confiscating nearly 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 100 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 49 PKM general purpose machine guns, 39 PKM spare barrels and 20 60mm mortar tubes.

A March 20 seizure by the French Navy destroyer FS Provence yielded almost 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 64 Dragunov sniper rifles, nine anti-tank missiles and other associated equipment.

NAVCENT is responsible for approximately 2.5 million square miles of area including the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, parts of the Indian Ocean and 20 countries.

 

Categories: Budget Industry, News & Analysis, Surface Forces, U.S. Navy
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.