Update: 2,521 AK-47 rifles seized by US destroyer in Gulf of Aden

An illicit weapons shipment containing 2,521 AK-47 automatic rifles was seized by USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) on August 28, the US Navy confirmed. 

As Naval Today earlier reported, the weapons were found aboard an unflagged dhow in the Gulf of Aden.

As informed, the full count follows an initial estimate of more than 1,000 rifles. The skiff was determined to be stateless following a flag-verification boarding.

The origin and intended destination of the skiff have not yet been determined, according to the navy.

“As a part of our countertrafficking mission, we are actively involved in searching for illegal weapons shipments of all kinds,” Navy Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander of US Naval Forces Central Command, US 5th Fleet, and the Combined Maritime Forces, commented.

The seizure comes after four weapons seizures in 2015 and 2016 accomplished by Combined Maritime Forces and US 5th Fleet assets.

The first seizure was by the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Melbourne in September 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 in February 2016 and confiscated nearly 2,000 AK-47 rifles, 81 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 49 PKM general purpose machine guns, 39 spare PKM barrels and 20 60 mm mortar tubes.

The third seizure was by the French navy destroyer FS Provence in March 2016 and yielded again almost 2,000 AK-47 rifles, 64 Dragunov sniper rifles, nine anti-tank missiles and six PK machine guns with bipods.

The fourth seizure was by US Navy coastal patrol ship USS Sirocco in March 2016 when it intercepted a dhow containing 1,500 AK-47s, 200 RPG launchers and 21 .50-caliber machine guns.

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 an analysis of all available information, 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.

Photo: Photo: US Navy