This is a proximity fuse US Central Command said was seized from a fishing trawler interdicted by the expeditionary sea base Lewis B. Puller on Dec. 1, 2022, in the Gulf of Oman. US Navy photo.
For the second time in less than a month, US forces in the Middle East said they intercepted a clandestine arms shipment to Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
On Thursday, Dec. 1, sailors from the expeditionary sea base Lewis B. Puller boarded an unflagged fishing trawler sailing the Gulf of Oman, according to an email from US 5th Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Timothy A. Hawkins in Bahrain.
The raid uncovered more than 1 million rounds of 7.62mm ammo; 25,000 rounds of 12.7mm ammo; nearly 7,000 proximity fuzes for rockets; and more than 2,100 kilograms of propellant for rocket-propelled grenades, officials said.
“This significant interdiction clearly shows that Iran’s unlawful transfer of lethal aid and destabilizing behavior continues,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of US Naval Forces Central Command, US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, in a prepared statement. “U.S. naval forces remain focused on deterring and disrupting dangerous and irresponsible maritime activity in the region.”
An unflagged fishing trawler intercepted by Navy personnel operating from expeditionary sea base Lewis B. Puller sails the Gulf of Oman, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. Authorities say they seized munitions bound for Houthi Rebels on board the vessel. US Navy photo.
After a week of cataloging the contents of its hold, sailors from the patrol coastal ship Hurricane and Navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians counted more than 70 tons of ammonium perchlorate. a powerful oxidizer that’s often used to make explosives and rocket fuel.
They also uncovered 100 tons of urea fertilizer, a compound with dual uses for agriculture and, in its nitrate form, explosives.
All transfers of weapons, money, and explosives to Iran-backed Houthi rebels violate United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216.
Bags containing more than 50 tons of fuzes and propellants for rockets and ammunition rounds sit on the flight deck of expeditionary sea base Lewis B. Puller, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. Authorities say the materiel was bound for Houthi rebels in Yemen. US Navy photo.
But Houthi leaders in Yemen said CENTCOM was trying to mislead the world with its latest announced seizure on the high seas, part of an ongoing propaganda effort to blockade rebel-held ports and airfields.
“The United States periodically publishes such allegations to justify the continuation of the blockade it is leading on the country, as it tries to delude public opinion and the international community that the lifting of the blockade poses a threat to security and stability in the region,” the statement read.
In a separate statement issued Sunday, Houthi leaders called on Saudi Arabia and the “statelet” of the United Arab Emirates to quit bowing to the US and lift the ongoing siege.
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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