The guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham seized an illicit weapons shipment found aboard a stateless skiff in the international waters of the Gulf of Aden, on August 28. Namely, the guided-missile destroyer found 2,521 AK-47 automatic rifles.
The count follows an initial estimation of over 1,000 rifles. The skiff was stateless after a flag verification boarding. The origin and intended destination of the skiff have are unknown.
The seizure also comes after four weapons seizures in 2015 and 2016 accomplished by Combined Maritime Forces and U.S. 5th Fleet assets.
The first seizure was by Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Melbourne on September 27, 2015, when it intercepted a dhow containing 75 anti-tank guided munitions, four tripods with associated equipment, four launch tubes, two launcher assembly units and three missile guidance sets.
The second seizure was by the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Darwin, which intercepted a dhow on February 27, 2016, confiscating almost 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 81 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 49 PKM general purpose machine guns, 39 PKM spare barrels and 20 60mm mortar tubes.
The third seizure was by the French Navy destroyer FS Provence on March 20, 2016, and yielded again almost 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 64 Dragunov sniper rifles, nine anti-tank missiles and six PK machine guns with bipods.
The fourth seizure was by U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship USS Sirocco (PC 6) operating as part of U.S. 5th Fleet, on March 28, 2016, when it intercepted a dhow containing 1,500 AK-47s, 200 RPG launchers and 21 .50 caliber machine guns.
The UK-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research studied and linked three of the caches to weapons that possibly derive from Iranian stockpiles.
Based on an analysis of all available information, including crew interviews, a review of onboard records and an examination of the arms aboard the vessel, the US concluded that the arms from the four interdictions in 2015 and 2016 originated in Iran and were intended to be delivered to the Houthis in Yemen in contravention of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216.