The seized shipment. US Central Command

US Navy seizes Iranian missile components bound for Houthis


Tue, 16-01-2024 03:43 PM, Aden

Aden (South24) 

The United States (US) Central Command announced today that on January 11 its Navy forces had seized a sailboat carrying advanced Iranian-made weapons on its way to resupply the Houthi militia in Yemen.

In a statement on X, Central Command said: “On 11 January 2024, while conducting a flag verification, U.S. CENTCOM Navy forces conducted a night-time seizure of a dhow conducting illegal transport of advanced lethal aid from Iran to resupply Houthi forces in Yemen as part of the Houthis’ ongoing campaign of attacks against international merchant shipping".

“U.S. Navy SEALs operating from USS LEWIS B PULLER (ESB 3), supported by helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), executed a complex boarding of the dhow near the coast of Somalia in international waters of the Arabian Sea, seizing Iranian-made ballistic missile and cruise missiles components. Seized items include propulsion, guidance, and warheads for Houthi medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) and anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), as well as air defense associated components," the statement added.

The statement disclosed that initial analysis had found the seized weapons to be the same as those employed by the Houthis to threaten and attack innocent mariners on international merchant ships transiting in the Red Sea, and that this is the first seizure of lethal, Iranian-supplied advanced conventional weapons to the Houthis since Houthi attacks against merchant ships began in November 2023.

The seized dhow was determined to be unsafe and was sunk by US forces, according to Central Command, while the “disposition of the 14 dhow crewmembers is being determined in accordance with international law."

The command center confirmed in the statement that Iran is violating UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which prohibits the supply of weapons to the Houthis.

The statement also gave updates on two Navy SEALS who had been previously reported as lost at sea due to turbulent waves while on a secret mission, confirming for the first time that the missing personnel were involved in this operation. “We are conducting an exhaustive search for our missing teammates,” it said. 

Elsewhere, a Malta-flagged, Greek-owned vessel was hit by a missile off the coast of Yemen this afternoon, according to a BBC news report citing maritime security firm Ambrey. 

The bulk carrier ship was traveling northbound in the Southern Red Sea to Suez, when it was targeted and impacted before changing course and heading to port, the Times of Malta reports. The ship had visited Israel in the past, suggesting a possible motive for its targeting. 

South24 Center

South YemenAdenUSCentral CommandNavyHouthisMissileIranRed SEa