US Navy officials this weekend seized a massive cache of weapons part of an Iranian arms shipment. It was hidden aboard a stateless vessel in the North Arabian Sea. Sailors from the USS Monterey discovered the cache during a routine flag verification.
“The US Navy conducts routine patrols in the region to ensure the free flow of commerce for legitimate traffic, disrupt the transport of illicit cargo that often funds terrorism and unlawful activity, and safeguard the rules-based international order,” said the Fifth Fleet in a statement.
Officials believe the unnamed vessel was heading from Iran to Yemen. Iran-baked Houthi rebels are fighting government forces backed by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition there.
Since 2016, there have been numerous seizures in the Arabian Sea involving Iranian arms shipments headed to Yemen. “The unique blend of material recovered by the USS Monterey appears to be consistent with the material from previous interdictions, which have been linked to Iran,” explains Tim Michetti, a researcher who specializes in the illicit weapons trade.
Witnesses say it took more than two days to relocate the arsenal. It included “dozens of advanced Russian-made, anti-tank guided missiles, thousands of Chinese Type 56 assault rifles, and hundreds of PKM machine guns, sniper rifles, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.”
When the operation was complete, the entirety of the Monterey’s 567-foot rear deck was covered with weapons. (See above image). Navy officials assessed the seaworthiness of the stateless vessel and offered food and water to the crew before moving on.
Author’s Note: This Iranian arms shipment is proof that the Islamic Republic is arming the Houthi rebels in Yemen despite the UN arms embargo. Iran is one of the worst actors in the world right now. Plus, a weak Biden Administration emboldens the regime.