The U.S. Navy provided additional details on last Thursday night’s interdiction off Somalia reporting that the mission seized a cache of conventional weaponry that they believe was being shipped from Iran to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The mission, which was the same as the earlier reports of two lost Navy SEALs, represented the first seizure of armaments since the current efforts began in November 2023.
The newly released details confirmed the Navy stopped a dhow near the coast of Somalia in international waters of the Arabian Sea, on January 11 in what they termed a flag verification effort. U.S. Navy SEALs operating from USS Lewis B Puller, supported by helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles, executed what CENTCOM terms “a complex boarding of the dhow.”
Unconfirmed reports from the weekend said it was conducted at nighttime in rough seas and that one of the two SEALS was knocked off a ladder by a wave and went into the water. Following protocol, the team member behind the first individual jumped in to help.
“We are conducting an exhaustive search for our missing teammates,” said General Michael Erik Kurilla, USCENTCOM Commander today describing the mission.
US forces boarded the dhow and later sunk it after it was deemed unsafe (CENTCOM)
During the boarding, the SEAL team determined the dhow was conducting an illegal transport of advanced lethal aid from Iran to resupply Houthi forces in Yemen, a violation of U.N. resolutions and international law.
The seized weaponry included Iranian-made ballistic missile and cruise missile components. Among the materials seized were propulsion, guidance, and warheads for Houthi medium-range ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles, as well as air defense components.
CENTCOM reports that initial analysis indicates these same weapons have been employed by the Houthis to threaten and attack international merchant ships transiting in the Red Sea. They are highlighting that it was the first seizure of advanced Iranian-manufactured ballistic missile and cruise missile components by the U.S. Navy since November 2019, although a year ago the Navy intercepted another dhow also carrying conventional weapons.
General Kurilla said the efforts of the U.S. and its allies are ongoing and that they would continue to expose and interdict these efforts to reestablish freedom of navigation in the region.
The dhow had 14 individuals aboard which the U.S. Navy reports are being handled under international law. The dhow was deemed unsafe and sunk by U.S. Navy forces.
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