US Navy Intercepts 1,400 Rifles in Arabian Sea

    US Navy Intercepts 1,400 Rifles in Arabian Sea

    Captured AKs (US Navy)

    On December 22, the US Navy reported that two days earlier it had intercepted a fishing vessel attempting to smuggle weapons through the Arabian Sea. On board, Coast Guard and Navy personnel found 226,600 rounds of ammunition and 1,400 AK-pattern assault rifles. While the vessel was stateless, the five men comprising the crew identified themselves as Yemeni. According to an official Navy press release:

    “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 direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis violates U.N. Security Council Resolutions and U.S. sanctions.”

    The Navy also said that once the weapons and crew were removed, “U.S. naval forces determined the stateless vessel was a hazard to navigation for commercial shipping”. The smugglers’ boat was then promptly dispatched to Davy Jones’s Locker.

    US Navy Intercepts 1,400 Rifles in Arabian Sea

    USS Tempest and USS Typhoon approach the stateless shipping vessel found to have been smuggling arms on December 20 (US Navy)

    The weapon smuggling vessel was detected and boarded by the crews of two US Cyclone-class patrol ships – the USS Tempest and USS Typhoon. The small craft, manned by Navy crews and Coast Guard interdiction teams, then handed over the illicit cargo to the guided-missile destroyer USS O’Kane. The three ships operate under the 5th Fleet area of operations and are not new to the Middle East, having first deployed to regional waters in 2004. This part of the world includes some of the most important choke points along the arteries of global trade: the Suez Canal, Strait of Hormuz and Strait of Bab al Mandeb.

    US Navy Intercepts 1,400 Rifles in Arabian Sea

    The USS Tempest alongside a Mark VI patrol boat during exercises conducted early in the year. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric Cerami)

    This year, the Navy’s routine security patrols in the region have been particularly fruitful. Warships operating under the 5th Fleet secured around 8,700 “illicit weapons” since January. A particularly successful interdiction came in May when the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey found thousands of small arms including “Chinese Type 56 assault rifles, and hundreds of PKM machine guns” as well as heavier weapons like Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles aboard one ship. It is also suspected that the May shipment originated in Iran and was headed towards Yemen.

    This article was written by  and originally published over on TFB’s sister site, Check out OVD for the latest defense news and updates.

    Matthew Moss

    _________________________________________________________________________ – Managing Editor – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]