The US Navy said it has intercepted a “stateless” vessel carrying a major illegal shipment of weapons to civil war-torn Yemen. The ship came from Iran, the Navy claimed.
The cache of around 1,400 AK-47 assault rifles and 266,000 rounds of ammunition was discovered after US Navy patrol coastal ships USS Tempest and USS Typhoon boarded a fishing vessel in the northern part of the Arabian Sea on Monday, the Navy said in a statement.
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 ship’s crew of five identified themselves as Yemeni nationals and will be returned to Yemen, the Navy said. The weapons were seized, while the ship itself was deemed “a hazard to navigation for commercial shipping” and was sunk.
In 2015, the UN Security Council banned the supplying of weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen. The US and the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting on the side of ousted Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi have repeatedly accused Iran of sending weapons to the Houthis.
Tehran has so far not commented on the seizure of the ship in the Arabian Sea, but has denied smuggling weapons to Yemen in the past.