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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.

 

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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.

  • Richard

    Good catch. These weapons should be used as readily available foreign aid for allies in the coming showdown with Islamic State and other jihadists in the Middle East and Africa — not destroyed or dumped in the ocean, which would be to the delight of the UN and Western small arms manufacturers who want the foreign aid market to themselves.

    • On Dre

      Would love to see the Pesmerga have these.

      • Richard

        Agreed. They’re holding the line with wired together AKs and “dollar a pop” bullets. Meanwhile, ISIS has the very best.

    • sraysr

      richard
      What is a foreign aid market ?
      The UN has nothing to do with weapons supplies to anyone.

      • Richard

        That was precisely my point. The UN Arms Control effort, among other things, is hardwired to slow or stop the movement of needed arms from government sanctioned defense industries and arsenals to where they’re needed. Our efforts to assist the Contras of Nicaragua to fight back against the Soviet backed Marxist Sandinista regime in the mid-80s was a case in point.

      • Super Vlad

        Leave it to you to fall for western propaganda, injun. ;-o

        • sraysr

          You still blowing your oteu and mamochka for thrills Vlad ?

  • Imre Demech

    Heard Obama wanted to visit Iran in November like he did in Cuba.

  • Imre Demech

    Wasn’t so long ago Obama praised Yemen our ally. Obama never had a clue about foreign policy. Obama Care & Cuba isn’t going to do him any good. N Korea & Iran have nukes. Obama didn’t know how to carry a big stick & talk softly. He was a balker & the world knows this now.

  • Shira

    The Americans will accidently send it all to Gaza.

    • Richard

      If this administration sends them to Gaza, it won’t be an accident.

  • publius_maximus_III

    By all means, free up some more frozen Iranian assets. Dey our Fwends, Kerry.

  • olesalt

    Can Iran be trusted? Obama is “blind” and is only interested in his President’s legacy. Iran & Cuba are now having their last laughs.

  • Mark

    Why did they let the dhow and crew leave? I think they should’ve sunk it and imprison the crew.

    • Danny Lewis

      My exact thought also. Maybe they put a hidden tracker on it to see where it went. Plus I’ll bet obama is pissed that these weapons were found and retrieved and that it all points to the Iranians complicity in this.

    • Donald Carey

      If they dump the weapons into the sea, they could always attach them to the dhow’s crew.

    • Lily

      Because it was in international waters and there’s no country that has the balls (excuse my language) to prosecute. I have to remain anonymous as my son is a Navy Officer on one of the ships that carried out this mission.

      • Mark

        That’s all well and good, but if they can seize the cargo ( under the UN arms embargo to Yemen) they can impound the vessel and dispose of it by scuttling it.
        I suspect you are proud of your son and rightly so. I have a son in the Navy Special Warfare and he has spent some time in those waters on VBSS.

        • ?? The Navy Special Warfare? Doing VBSS?

          • Mark

            SEAL, Visitation, Board, Search and Seizure.

  • Jim Valle

    The nature of these weapons, small, cheap, easy to fabricate and ship around tells us why it’s so tempting for trouble making countries to instigate insurgencies in failed states like Yemen and Somalia. Given the potential for trouble that they represent, it seems entirely reasonable to declare their transporting by “stateless” vessels a form of piracy. The ships should be confiscated and the crews arrested and interrogated so that intelligence on this traffic can be developed.

    • John B. Morgen

      Just where are we going to jailed these pirate crews?

  • John B. Morgen

    Shouldn’t our Coast Guard be doing this type of work; instead of our Navy?

    • Richard

      They are. The Navy and the Coast Guard are busy in the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and throughout Central Command.

      • John B. Morgen

        The Coast Guard going to need a lot ships for such operations, I just hope that the Coast Guard doesn’t forget about covering the [Homeland] with enough ships and craft.

        • Richard

          Agreed. Remember, after 9/11 the Coast Guard was transfered from DOT to Homeland Security. Part of the increase in funding was to build a whole new class of high endurance cutters, expansion of coastal vessels and air assets, and greater streamlining the reserve component into the active component, and even the volunteer Auxiliary into front line operations here at home.

    • In the Arabian Gulf? International waters? Some 110s serve under Navy in 5th Fleet. But USCG should focus on US waters. Article 1, Section 8 of Constitution: to provide and maintain a navy.

      • John B. Morgen

        The president can authorized the Coast Guard to operate alongside with the Navy, if he wants to.

        • That is my point. Could have been a coastie if it was their turn at patrol. Have you seen a PC?

          • John B. Morgen

            Yes I have seen a PC, which it is quite under gunned.

  • Ed L

    Agree we should turn these weapons over to the Pesmerga and build more Cyclone class patrol ships. Were are the LCS? In the good old days of Sail, Proper Frigates and Sloops were used to do such tasks. We have proper Sloops (Cyclone Class Patrol Ships) now our Navy just needs a proper Frigate. Maybe they should bring back the prize system Please look up Omaha CL-4 Capture of Odenwald in 1941. I think the crew of the USS Sirocco (PC 6) is entitle to Prize Money. Market value of the Cargo and the vessel. That would be tax free 2 or 3 months extra Pay. What was the British method 2/8 for the Admiral 1/8 for the captain. 1/8 divided among the Officers. 1/8 divided among theWarrants. 1/8 among the Mates and the midshipman. 1/8 divided among the crew. And don’t forget the governments take

    • Richard

      Maybe they should not have decommissioned all 51 FFG-7 (Arleigh Burke)-class guided missile frigates. They were great little warships built in the 80s, well armed, pretty fast and cost effective.

      • J

        The FFG was the Oliver Hazard Perry class of Frigates. The Arleigh Burke are the class of destroyers that are still in service and still being built.

        • Richard

          Agreed. I meant to say Oliver Hazard Class (FFG-7 class). They were low-tech by DDG-51 standards, but fast, well armed and durable. They made perfect escorts for commercial ships, and through tactical data links, they could work in coordination with newer Aegis-capable DDGs and CGs.

  • Imre Demech

    What will the USA do with all them good weapons that could be given to friendly forces fighting ISIS ?? US contractors want them destroyed so to sell their own brand new ones at tax payer expense. Tax payers won’t know.

  • Imre Demech

    Any other US President other then Obama who hasn’t a clue about Foreign Policy wouldn’t of let Yemen fall by the hands of Iran. Obama is one of the weakest US presidents we have had!!! Iran declared war on the USA in 1979 & that’s a fact Jack !!! Iran is the biggest arms exporter in the world right now. They have been doing so through sanctions upon them. Iran doesn’t want a democracy in government & the Mullahs will rule until they have a civil war within. Some countries ask for war & they be Iran & N Korea. Bush was right on about Axis of Evils, he just picked the wrong country 1st. Should of started out with N Korea, China wouldn’t of did a thing about it. They stock all the Walmarts shelves of their products.

    • Secundius

      If you Both to Actually Read the Article, the Australian Frigate HMAS Darwin Seized the Weapons. Not the Americans. What THEY (the Australians) plan to with the Weapons, is there business…

      • It’s the third time this has happened. Darwin was involved in 1:3. I would read it again sucudis

    • You give POTUS too little credit. He knows exactly what he is doing in foreign policy, it’s all anti USA.