Alert sailors aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham noticed unmarked, covered packages being unloaded onto a skiff from a “dhow” in the Gulf of Aden. On Tuesday, they approached the dhow and conducted a flag check. The skiff was determined to be “stateless,” so they boarded it. The skiff’s engines were not operational. They found 1,000 AK-47s and seized them.
A #USSJasonDunham Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure #VBSS team recently seized a large cache of over 1,000 AK-47 automatic rifles aboard a stateless skiff while operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations conducting maritime security operations. #NavyReadiness pic.twitter.com/RKdenLNxXL
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) August 30, 2018
The Navy released the information on August 30.
The USS Jason Dunham is in the area assigned to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.
The Navy press release stated:
“The guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet, seized an illicit shipment of arms from a stateless skiff in the international waters of the Gulf of Aden, on Aug. 28.
The skiff was determined to be stateless following a flag verification boarding, conducted in accordance with international law. Illicit cargo discovered by the Dunham’s visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team included over 1,000 weapons.
“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,” said Cmdr. John Hamilton, Dunham’s commanding officer. “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, and I am proud of Jason Dunham’s Sailors for accomplishing the mission.”
Dunham located a dhow transferring covered packages to a skiff on Aug. 27. On Aug. 28, Dunham conducted a flag verification boarding and determined the skiff to be a stateless vessel. Subsequently, the boarding team discovered a cache of over 1,000 AK-47 automatic rifles.
The skiff’s engines were inoperable, and the distressed mariners were brought aboard Dunham as part of a safety-of-life-at-sea (SOLAS) operation. The mariners were evaluated by the ship’s medical personnel and were uninjured.
The original source of the weapons has not yet been identified. The weapons are in U.S. custody awaiting final disposition.
The mariners were transferred to the Yemeni Coast Guard.”
The Navy declined to speculate on the intended destination for the weapons. The US has backed the Saudi coalition which backs the original government of Yemen, according to Stars and Stripes.
GULF OF ADEN (Aug. 28, 2018) A visit, board, search and seizure team from the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) inspects a skiff as part of maritime security operations. The stateless skiff was found carrying a shipment of over 1,000 illicit weapons. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist Matt Bodenner/Released)