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US Navy Seizes Fishing Vessel Trafficking 2116 AK-47 Assault Rifles From Iran

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GULF OF OMAN (Jan. 7, 2023) 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)

On January 6th, a U.S. naval operation intercepted a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman and discovered it was trafficking illicit cargo of 2,116 AK-47 assault rifles, as it was travelling through international waters between Iran and Yemen. The weapons were discovered and seized by a U.S. Navy team from the USS Chinook, with additional support from the USS Monsoon and USS The Sullivans. The vessel, which had been traversing a known route for illegal smuggling to the Houthi group in Yemen, was manned by six Yemeni crew members.

Providing weapons, be it directly or indirectly, to the Houthis defies both U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216 and international laws. The process of returning the vessel and its crew members to their home country is currently underway. Recently, in a span of two months, The U.S. 5th Fleet has apprehended another two fishing boats for smuggling deadly aid from Iran to Yemen in the Gulf of Oman.

“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.”

Operations led by the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) resulted in the confiscation of over 50 tons of ammunition, fuses, and propellant for rockets on December 1st. Prior to that, on November 8th, teams from the USS The Sullivans, USS Hurricane and the U.S. Coast Guard ship USCGC John Scheuerman seized a large cache of ammonium perchlorate, a powerful oxidizer used in rocket and missile fuel production, in addition to 100 tons of urea fertilizer. The area of operations for the U.S. 5th Fleet encompasses 21 countries, the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, sections of the Indian Ocean and three vital straits; Strait of Hormuz, Bab al-Mandeb and Suez Canal.

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