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US Navy seizes cache of AK-47 assault rifles

24th December 2021 - 13:14 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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A stateless vessel carrying approximately 1400 AK-47 assault rifles has been seized by the US Navy (Photo: US Navy)

A stateless vessel carrying 1400 AK-47 rifles has been intercepted by the US Navy.

US 5th Fleet ships have seized approximately 1400 AK-47 assault rifles from a stateless fishing vessel during a flag verification inspection in the North Arabian Sea, according to the United States Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT).

US Navy patrol coastal ships USS Tempest (PC 2) and USS Typhoon (PC 5) recovered the weapons and over 226,000 rounds of ammunition during a search conducted by embarked US Coast Guard personnel, on 20 December. 

The weapons and ammunition have since been transported to guided-missile destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG 77) and await 'final disposition,'  according to NAVCENT.

'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,' NAVCENT added. 'The direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis violates U.N. Security Council Resolutions and U.S. sanctions.'

After removal of five crew members who identified themselves as Yemen nationals and the illegal weapons, the US Navy determined the stateless vessel to be a hazard to commercial shipping and subsequently sank it.

'U.S. naval forces regularly perform maritime security operations in the Middle East to ensure the free flow of legitimate trade and to disrupt the transport of illicit cargo that often funds terrorism and other unlawful activity,' NAVCENT reported. 

'U.S. Navy warships operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet region have seized approximately 8,700 illicit weapons in 2021.'

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