US Navy, Coast Guard intercept explosive material bound for Yemen

The US Navy guided missile destroyer USS The Sullivans and patrol coastal ship USS Hurricane sail in the background as sailors inventory a large quantity of urea fertiliser and ammonium perchlorate discovered on board a fishing vessel intercepted by US naval forces while transiting international waters in the Gulf of Oman, November 9, 2022. (Photo: US Navy/Sonar Technician (Surface) 1st Class Kevin Frus)

Vessels of the US Navy and the US Coast Guard intercepted a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman smuggling lethal aid, including a large quantity of explosive material, from Iran to Yemen earlier this month, the navy confirmed recently.

The fast response cutter USCGC John Scheuerman and the guided missile destroyer USS The Sullivans interdicted the vessel as it transited international waters on November 8.

The patrol coastal ship USS Hurricane and navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians from the US Fifth Fleet’s Task Force 56 also assisted during a week-long effort to fully search the vessel and verify the type of material found.

The US forces discovered more than 70 tons (63 tonnes) of ammonium perchlorate, a powerful oxidiser commonly used to make rocket and missile fuel as well as explosives.

The search also found more than 100 tons (90 tonnes) of urea fertiliser. Urea is a chemical compound with agricultural applications that is also known for use as an explosive precursor.

The vessel and its four Yemeni crewmembers were intercepted while transiting from Iran along a route historically used to traffic weapons to the Houthis in Yemen. The navy said the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis violates UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law.

US forces sank the vessel in the Gulf of Oman five days later after determining it was a hazard to navigation for commercial shipping. The four crewmembers were then transferred to Yemen for repatriation when The Sullivans completed an at-sea exchange in the Gulf of Aden with the Yemen Coast Guard.

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