Navy ships assigned to U.S. 5th Fleet confiscated a stockpile of 1,400 AK-47 assault rifles and 226,600 rounds of ammunition in the North Arabian Sea from a stateless fishing vessel Dec. 20.
U.S. Navy patrol coastal ships Tempest and Typhoon were conducting a search with embarked U.S. Coast Guard personnel when they uncovered the illicit weapons, which were transferred to the guided-missile destroyer O’Kane.
“The stateless vessel was assessed to have originated in Iran and transited international waters along a route historically used to traffic weapons unlawfully to the Houthis in Yemen,” the Navy said in a news release. “The direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis violates U.N. Security Council Resolutions and U.S. sanctions.”
The vessel’s crew consisted of five people who claimed to be from Yemen, and their fishing vessel was sunk after crew and cargo were removed because the Navy deemed the vessel “a hazard to navigation for commercial shipping,” the service said in a news release. The crew will be returned to Yemen.
Altogether, the Navy estimates that 5th Fleet has confiscated roughly 8,700 illicit weapons this year.
In February, the guided-missile destroyer Winston Churchill seized thousands of illicit weapons, such as AK-47 assault rifles and heavy sniper rifles, off the coast of Somalia.
A few months later, in May, the guided-missile cruiser Monterey seized nearly 3,000 Chinese Type 56 assault rifles and dozens of advanced, Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles from a stateless vessel in the Arabian Sea.