OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 11:14 AM PT – Tuesday, January 10, 2023
The United States Navy has seized over 2,000 assault rifles after stopping a suspected smuggling vessel in route from Iran.
The USS Chinook conducted a boarding operation on what it suspected to be a smuggling vessel in the Gulf of Oman. The operation took place on January 6th, and it included the USS Chinook along with the USS Monsoon, and USS The Sullivans.
During the operation the U.S. Navy boarding team discovered a team of Yemeni nationals, as well as confiscating 2,116 assault rifles that were making their way from Iran to Yemen according to a Navy statement.
“This shipment is part of a continued pattern of destabilizing activity from Iran,” Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces Vice Admiral Brad Cooper said. “These threats have our attention. We remain vigilant in detecting any maritime activity that impedes freedom of navigation or compromises regional security.”
This is the third fishing vessel that has been found smuggling lethal aid to the Houthi rebels in Yemen from Iran since November.
The Navy had seized more than 50 tons of ammunition rounds, fuses, and rocket propellants during an operation on December 1st.
On November 8th a joint operation in the Gulf of Oman had also seized over 70 tons of chemicals which are used to make rocket propellants and explosives.
Along with halting smuggling vessels, the U.S. Navy has had multiple interactions with Iranian vessels.
The latest confrontation took place in June 2022 when three Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy vessels (IRGCN) confronted a U.S. convoy in the Strait of Hormuz. One of the vessels had closed within 50 yards of the USS Sirocco, and only turned away after a warning flare was shot.
“One of the IRGCN vessels approached Sirocco head-on at a dangerously high speed and only altered course after the U.S. patrol coastal ship issued audible warning signals to avoid collision. The Iranian vessel also came within 50 yards of the U.S. Navy ship during the interaction, and Sirocco responded by deploying a warning flare,” the U.S. Navy had said.
The United Nations Security Council and international law ban the aid for Houthi rebels in Yemen. The U.S. Navy routinely patrols the Gulf of Oman due to its multiple smuggling routes from Iran to Yemen.