Navy, Coast Guard Arrest Smugglers Carrying Tons of Explosive Material

Elements of the US Navy and Coast Guard last week intercepted a ship carrying a “massive” Iranian cargo of explosive materials bound for Yemen, according to US Naval Forces Central Command.

The fishing vessel, carrying four Yemeni crew members, was stopped in international waters on November 8 by Coast Guard Cutter John Scheuerman and the Navy’s guided-missile destroyer The Sullivans.

Explosive ordnance disposal technicians from U.S. 5th Fleet Task Force 56 and the crew of the Navy patrol vessel Hurricane helped seize more than 170 tons of urea and perchlorate fertilizer from ammonium, materials used to make explosives.

“It was a massive amount of explosive material, enough to power more than a dozen medium-range ballistic missiles depending on size,” said Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of Central Forces Command. US Navy, US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. said in a statement.

“The illegal transfer of lethal aid from Iran does not go unnoticed. It is irresponsible, dangerous and leads to violence and instability across the Middle East.

The vessel is believed to have taken a route that is “historically used for arms smuggling to the Houthis in Yemen”, the command statement said.

After unloading its contents, the US military determined that the boat posed a hazard to commercial shipping and sank it in the Gulf of Oman. The four Yemeni crew members were transferred to Yemen for repatriation.

This is not the first time the US 5th Fleet has stopped a smuggling vessel in the region.

Earlier this month, the Navy seized $1 million worth of drugs from Iranian and Pakistani nationals who set their fishing boat on fire in the Gulf of Oman.

In January, the guided-missile destroyer Cole and the coastal patrol vessel Chinook intercepted another fishing vessel attempting to transfer illicit weapons off the coast of Somalia, seizing 40 tonnes of urea-based fertilizer.

Jonathan is the editor and publisher of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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