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, Aug. 28 now at counted 2,521 AK-47 automatic rifles.
The count follows an initial estimate of over 1,000 rifles. The skiff was determined to be stateless following a flag verification boarding, conducted in accordance with international law.
The origin and intended destination of the skiff have not yet been determined.
“We are actively involved in searching for illegal weapons shipments of all kinds,” said Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, and the Combined Maritime Forces. “Ensuring the flow of commerce for legitimate traffic continues to be paramount to the U.S. Navy and its regional partners and allies.”
The seizure comes after four weapons seizures in 2015 and 2016 accomplished by Combined Maritime Forces and U.S. 5th Fleet assets.
The United Kingdom-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research studied and linked three of the caches to weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles.
Based on crew interviews, a review of onboard records and an examination of the arms aboard the vessel, the United States 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.