US Navy intercepts vessel smuggling explosive material in Gulf of Oman

40 tons of urea fertilizer, which can be used to manufacture explosives, were seized by the US Navy.

By TZVI JOFFRE*

US service members conduct a boarding on a stateless fishing vessel transiting international waters the Gulf of Oman as a rigid-hull inflatable boat and patrol coastal ship USS Chinook (PC 9) sail nearby, Jan. 18. (photo credit: US NAVY)

The US Navy interdicted a fishing vessel carrying 40 tons of explosive material in the Gulf of Oman on Tuesday, with this being the second time the Navy has found this same vessel to be smuggling weapons or weapons materials in the region, the US 5th Fleet announced on Sunday.

Guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) and patrol coastal ship USS Chinook (PC 9) interdicted the vessel which was not flying under any flag as it was traveling from Iran in international waters along a route historically used to smuggle weapons to the Houthis in Yemen.

US forces discovered 40 tons of urea fertilizer, a compound that can be used for agricultural applications but can also be used to manufacture explosives, on the vessel.

The vessel, its cargo and five Yemeni crew members were transferred to Yemen Coast Guard officials on Friday.

The same exact vessel was caught in February 2021 carrying illicit weapons off the coast of Somalia. The weapons included thousands of AK-47 assault rifles, light machine guns, heavy sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and crew-served weapons.

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