The US Navy 5th Fleet seized a large arms shipment from a stateless fishing vessel during a flag verification boarding in the North Arabian Sea, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced on December 23.
The shipment, which was seized on December 20, included approximately 1,400 AK-47 assault rifles and 226,600 rounds of ammunition.
“US Navy patrol coastal ships USS Tempest (PC 2) and USS Typhoon (PC 5) found the weapons during a search conducted by embarked U.S. Coast Guard personnel. The illicit weapons and ammunition were later transported to guided-missile destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG 77) where they await final disposition,” the CENTCOM said in a press release.
According to the CENTCOM, the vessel originated in Iran and was sailing along a route used to traffic weapons to the Houthis (Ansar Allah) in Yemen.
The vessel’s five crew members, who identified themselves as Yemeni nationals, will be returned to Yemen. However, the vessel was sunk by the US Navy.
This was not the first such operation by the US Navy 5th Fleet. In May, guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) seized dozens of advanced Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles, thousands of Chinese Type 56 assault rifles and hundreds of PKM machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers from a stateless vessel transiting the North Arabian Sea.
After assuming office in January, the Biden administration announced that the US had halted its direct support to the Saudi-led war against the Houthis in Yemen. The recent operations of the US Navy 5th Fleet in the Arabian Sea suggest otherwise, however.