U.S. Navy Thwarts Illicit Arms Shipment from Iran to Houthi Rebels in Yemen

Landmark Interception Marks First Seizure of Iranian-Made Missile Components Since 2019; Search Underway for Missing Navy SEALs


In a recent development, the U.S. Navy has unveiled additional specifics regarding the interdiction mission carried out off the coast of Somalia on Thursday night. The operation successfully seized a cache of conventional weaponry believed to have been en route from Iran to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. This mission, which unfortunately coincided with the earlier reports of two Navy SEALs missing in action, marks a pivotal moment as it represents the inaugural interception of armaments since the initiation of current operations in November 2023.

According to the recently disclosed information, the Navy intercepted a dhow in international waters of the Arabian Sea, near the coast of Somalia, on January 11. Described as a flag verification effort, U.S. Navy SEALs, operating from the USS Lewis B Puller and assisted by helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, executed a complex boarding operation on the dhow, as designated by CENTCOM.

Unconfirmed reports from the weekend suggest that the operation occurred under challenging conditions, taking place at night amidst rough seas. It was reported that one of the SEALs was knocked off a ladder by a wave, prompting the immediate intervention of the team member behind him in accordance with established protocol.

Addressing the media, General Michael Erik Kurilla, USCENTCOM Commander, stated, “We are conducting an exhaustive search for our missing teammates.” During the boarding, the SEAL team ascertained that the dhow was engaged in an illicit transportation of advanced lethal aid from Iran to replenish Houthi forces in Yemen, thereby violating U.N. resolutions and international law.

The seized weaponry encompasses Iranian-manufactured ballistic missile and cruise missile components, including propulsion, guidance, and warheads designed for Houthi medium-range ballistic missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, and air defense systems.

CENTCOM’s initial analysis indicates that these confiscated weapons have previously been utilized by the Houthis to threaten and attack international merchant ships transiting the Red Sea. Emphasizing the significance of this event, it is noted that this marks the first seizure of advanced Iranian-manufactured ballistic missile and cruise missile components by the U.S. Navy since November 2019, although a similar interception occurred a year prior.

General Kurilla affirmed that the collaborative efforts of the U.S. and its allies remain ongoing, underscoring their commitment to exposing and interdicting such activities to restore freedom of navigation in the region. The dhow, carrying 14 individuals, is reported to be handled under international law, with the vessel deemed unsafe and subsequently sunk by U.S. Navy forces.

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