PHOTO: UK’s Type 23 frigate seizes anti-tank missiles in Gulf of Oman
Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster seized anti-tank weapons and ballistic missile components being smuggled in international waters in the Gulf of Oman after a high-speed chase in the Gulf.
Royal Marines of 42 Commando from HMS Lancaster pounced on a speed boat after scrambling its Wildcat helicopter to track the vessel darting through international waters.
The smugglers tried to evade the ever-present 815 Naval Air Squadron helicopter and ignored every radio call demanding them to stop – instead steering their craft towards Iranian territorial waters.
They were intercepted by the British frigate before they could do so.
The Royal Marines boarding team who searched the suspect craft found a number of packages.
Royal Navy bomb disposal and ordnance specialists checked the weapons to ensure they were safe to bring them back onboard Lancaster for inspection.
The haul included Iranian versions of Russian 9M133 Kornet anti-tank guided missiles – known in Iran as ‘Dehlavieh’ – and medium-range ballistic missile components.
The chase was sparked when an American drone spotted the skiff moving at speed through international waters in the darkness.
The United Nations have been informed about the seizure and invited to conduct its own inspection of the materiel in accordance with Security Council resolutions 2216 and 2231.
It’s the third weapons cache seized by the Royal Navy in the region inside 13 months. Early in 2022, HMS Lancaster’s predecessor operating in the same waters, sister frigate HMS Montrose, struck twice inside a month, interdicting multiple rocket engines for land-attack cruise missile and a batch of surface-to-air missiles.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Lancaster’s interdiction – and the permanent presence of the Royal Navy in the Gulf region – “supports our commitment to uphold international law and tackle activity that threatens peace and security around the world.”
As a result of last year’s arms seizures, the UK presented evidence of violations of United Nations Security Council Resolutions – concerning weapons transfers to Houthi rebels and controls on the proliferation of Iranian missile technology respectively.