US navy's fifth fleet intercepted a dhow, a traditional sailing vessel in the northern Arabian sea, unaffiliated to any country carrying an illicit shipment of weapons between May 6 and May 7.
The guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) carried out the raid and seized the weapons after the dhow was noticed carrying a large cache of arms by an SH-60 Seahawk helicopter in the waters off the coast between Oman and Pakistan.
The vessel is believed to be en route to Yemen when it was intercepted. This vessel carrying an armed shipment to Yemen amidst a long ravaging war is a matter of concern.
According to the statement made by Bahrain-based fleet, " The cache of weapons 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 grenades launchers. Other weapon components included advanced optical sights."
The statement went on to say that the cache of weapons was still under the custody of the US navy waiting for final disposition. The navy also intends to launch a detailed investigation to identify the origin and final destination of the dhow.
The vessel is believed to be heading for Yemen as over the last 5 years many such raids have taken place ultimately seizing small arms shipment of Kalashnikov-style assault rifles, sniper rifles with Chinese-made arms to fuel the war in Yemen between Iranian backed Houthi rebels and Saudi Arabia led military coalition has been wreaking havoc since 2015.
The statement made by the fifth fleet of the US navy mentioned that after the raids were carried out US navy personnel assed the dhow for seaworthiness and thoroughly questioned the crew onboard. Not much was revealed during the interrogation after which the crew was provided food and water according to the US Navy and then the crew was released.
This is one of the biggest seizures that have taken place since 2016. The US navy believes that the unique mix of weapons seized in the interception could be traced back to seizures that have occurred over the last four years and found to be related to the Yemen war. The war has killed some 130,000 people, including over 13,000 civilians.
Notorious activities of several rebel groups and terror funding organizations making such illicit shipment of weapon caches through the Arabian sea have been on the rise as middle-east Asia is struck by the apathy of a series of wars.
A strong naval and coast guard presence by nations surrounding the Arabian sea carrying frequent patrol and heightened vigilance in the waters could help curb such illegal activities ultimately helping in restoring peace to several countries.