Royal Navy seizes skiff carrying anti-tank missiles in Gulf of Oman

Photo: Royal Navy

The Royal Navy has seized anti-tank weapons and ballistic missile components being smuggled in international waters in the Gulf of Oman after a high-speed chase on a suspect vessel.

Royal Marines Commandos deployed from the Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster intercepted a speedboat after the ship’s embarked Wildcat helicopter was scrambled to track the vessel as it transited international waters.

The smugglers tried to evade the helicopter and ignored every radio call demanding them to stop, instead steering their craft towards Iranian territorial waters. They were intercepted by the British frigate before they could do so.

The Royal Marines boarding team who searched the suspect craft found a number of packages. Royal Navy bomb disposal and ordnance specialists checked the weapons to ensure they were safe to bring them back onboard Lancaster for inspection.

The seized items included Iranian versions of the Russian 9M133 Kornet anti-tank guided missile as well as components for medium-range ballistic missiles.

The chase began when an American-operated drone spotted the skiff moving at speed through international waters in the darkness.

The United Nations has been informed about the seizure and invited to conduct its own inspection of the materiel in accordance with Security Council resolutions 2216 and 2231.

It is the third weapons cache seized by the Royal Navy in the region inside 13 months. Early in 2022, Lancaster’s predecessor operating in the same waters, sister frigate HMS Montrose, struck twice inside a month, interdicting multiple rocket engines for land-attack cruise missiles and a batch of surface-to-air missiles.

As a result of last year’s arms seizures, the UK presented evidence of violations of United Nations Security Council Resolutions concerning weapons transfers to Houthi rebels and controls on the proliferation of Iranian missile technology, respectively.

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