U.S. forces provided airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support for an interdiction in the Gulf of Oman conducted by the United Kingdom Royal Navy, Feb. 23, that resulted in the discovery of an illegal weapons shipment from Iran.
Coordinated efforts among U.S. and UK maritime forces led to Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster (F229) confiscating anti-tank guided missiles and missile components from a small boat that originated from Iran. UK forces discovered packages that included Iranian versions of Russian 9M133 Kornet anti-tank guided missiles, known in Iran as “Dehlavieh,” and medium-range ballistic missile components.
“This is the seventh illegal weapon or drug interdiction in the last three months and yet another example of Iran’s increasing malign maritime activity across the region,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “We will continue to work with our partners in pursuing any destabilizing activity that threatens regional maritime security and stability.”
The interdiction occurred along a route historically used to traffic weapons unlawfully to Yemen. The direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis in Yemen violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law.
U.S. and UK naval forces regularly conduct combined maritime security operations to disrupt the flow of illicit cargo in Middle East waters. Last year, U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101), Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose (F236) and combined air assets led to Royal Navy forces seizing surface-to-air missiles and land-attack cruise-missile engines.
In the past three months, seven major interdictions have resulted in U.S. and partner maritime forces seizing more than 5,000 weapons, 1.6 million rounds of ammunition, 7,000 proximity fuses for rockets, 2,100 kilograms of propellant used to launch rocket propelled grenades, 30 anti-tank guided missiles, medium-range ballistic missile components and $80 million worth of illegal drugs.
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and United Kingdom Maritime Component Command are headquartered in Manama, Bahrain.