US warship seizes massive cache of illicit weapons in North Arabian Sea

uss monterey

AN AMERICAN WARSHIP HAS seized a massive cache of illicit Russian- and Chinese-made weapons, which were found hidden inside a small fishing vessel sailing in the North Arabian Sea, according to the United States Navy. A statement describing the seizure was issued on Monday by the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is based in the Gulf state of Bahrain. It said that the seizure was carried out by a US Coast Guard Team aboard the USS Monterey, which is a guided-missile cruiser.

According to the statement, the weapons were found on May 6, during a “routine operation” aimed to verify the ship’s registry. The statement describes the vessel as “a stateless dhow”, a term referring to traditional sailing vessels found in the Indian Ocean and the North Arabian Sea. The vessel was boarded by a US Coast Guard Advanced Interdiction Team, whose members are trained in boarding vessels with potentially non-compliant crews.

The Coast Guard force found thousands of Chinese- and Russian-made weapons onboard the ship, according to the US Navy. They included several dozen advanced anti-tank guided missiles and thousands of Chinese-made Type 56 rifles, which are variants of the Russian-made AK-47 automatic rifle. The cache also included rocket-propelled grenade launchers, machine guns, sniper rifles, and advanced optical sights. So large was the volume of weapons that it took two days to transfer them onboard the USS Monterrey.

The US Navy said that the source of the illicit weapons is currently unknown. Additionally, the destination of the ship remains under investigation. However, several experts noted on Monday that similar shipments of weapons that have been confiscated in the North Arabian Sea in recent years were destined for Yemen, where a civil war has been raging since 2015. The Yemeni government, supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia, is fighting a coalition of Shiite rebels, known as the Houthis, who are aided by Iran.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 11 May 2021 | Permalink

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