US Navy Seizes Over 1,000 AKs from Boat off Coast of Yemen

    Pirate AKs

    Some of the AK-pattern rifles captured by USS Jason Dunham from a stateless skiff off the coast of Yemen, Aug. 28, 2018 (US Navy)

    A US Navy destroyer, the USS Jason Dunham, intercepted a skiff in the Gulf of Aden and discovered over 1,000 AK-pattern rifles. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer dispatched search teams to a ‘stateless skiff’ in international waters on 28th August.

    A US Navy press release said that the skiff was determined to be ‘stateless’ following a routine search by a ‘visit, board, search and seizure’ team. The boarding team found a cache of over 1,000 AK-pattern rifles wrapped in plastic bags and packed in sacks. the origins of the weapons are unclear but a larger vessel, a dhow, was seen transferring the weapons to the skiff before the USS Jason Dunham intervened.

    USS Jason Dunham inspects skiff

    USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) intercepted a ‘stateless skiff’ in the Gulf of Aden, two boats with inspection teams board the skiff  (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist Matt Bodenner/Released)

    The USS Jason Dunham is part of the 5th Fleet, operating in the strategically important Gulf of Aden which connects the Mediterranean and the Red Sea through to the western Indian Ocean. The vessel’s commanding officer, Cmdr. John Hamilton, said: “Our ship routinely conducts maritime security operations with our highly-trained VBSS team incorporating both on and off ship intelligence assets to help locate vessels. Ensuring the free flow of commerce for legitimate traffic and securing the sea lanes of communication continue to be paramount to the U.S. Navy and its regional partners and allies…”

    aboard a yemeni smugglers skiff

    The search time aboard the ‘stateless skiff’ aboard which over 1000 weapons were found (U.S. Navy photo /Released)

    The rifles were transferred to the destroyer and inventories in the ships hanger bay. sadly, no better photographs of the rifles were made available and it is difficult to determine the exact variant and manufacturing nation, from the under-folders pictured in the header image. According to the Pentagon, investigations are underway to discover the origins and planned recipients of the shipment of rifles. The skiff’s engines were reported as being inoperable and its crew was taken aboard the USS Jason Dunham before being transferred to the Yemeni Coast Guard.

    US Navy ak

    Ensign Sean Standard, left, and Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Ray Sanders take inventory of a large cache of over 1,000 AK-47 automatic rifles in the hangar bay of the USS Jason Dunham (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay/Released)

    The seizure of this shipment is not a first, back in 2016, the USS Gravely captured another similar sized shipment of the Yemeni coast and the French and Australian Navies have made similar discoveries during operations in the region.

    Sources: 1 2 3

    Matthew Moss

    Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]