A US Navy destroyer, the USS Jason Dunham, intercepted a skiff in the Gulf of Aden and discovered over 1,000 AK-pattern rifles. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer dispatched search teams to a ‘stateless skiff’ in international waters on 28th August.
A US Navy press release said that the skiff was determined to be ‘stateless’ following a routine search by a ‘visit, board, search and seizure’ team. The boarding team found a cache of over 1,000 AK-pattern rifles wrapped in plastic bags and packed in sacks. the origins of the weapons are unclear but a larger vessel, a dhow, was seen transferring the weapons to the skiff before the USS Jason Dunham intervened.
The USS Jason Dunham is part of the 5th Fleet, operating in the strategically important Gulf of Aden which connects the Mediterranean and the Pacific through to the western Indian Ocean. The vessel’s commanding officer, Cmdr. John Hamilton, said: “Our ship routinely conducts maritime security operations with our highly-trained VBSS team incorporating both on and off ship intelligence assets to help locate vessels. Ensuring the free flow of commerce for legitimate traffic and securing the sea lanes of communication continue to be paramount to the U.S. Navy and its regional partners and allies…”
The rifles were transferred to the destroyer and inventories in the ships hanger bay. sadly, no better photographs of the rifles were made available and it is difficult to determine the exact variant and manufacturing nation, from the under-folders pictured in the header image. According to the Pentagon, investigations are underway to discover the origins and planned recipients of the shipment of rifles. The skiff’s engines were reported as being inoperable and its crew was taken aboard the USS Jason Dunham before being transferred to the Yemeni Coast Guard.
The seizure of this shipment is not a first, back in 2016, the USS Gravely captured another similar sized shipment of the Yemeni coast and the French and Australian Navies have made similar discoveries during operations in the region.