The US Navy has intercepted enough material to operate more than a dozen medium-range ballistic missiles aboard a fishing vessel bound from Iran to Yemen.
The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet seized the massive amount of explosive material on November 8 as the ship was traveling along a route used to send weapons to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the war-torn country.
“The illegal transfer of deadly aid from Iran has not gone unnoticed,” Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command, Fifth Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said in a statement. It is irresponsible and dangerous and leads to violence and instability throughout the Middle East.
The Fifth Fleet said the ship was intercepted by USCGC John Scheuerman and guided missile destroyer USS The Sullivans.
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“The coastal patrol vessel USS Hurricane (PC3) and Navy EOD technicians from the 56th Task Force of the US Fifth Fleet also assisted during a week-long effort to fully search the ship and verify the type of material found,” it said in a statement. .
While on board, “forces discovered more than 70 tons of ammonium perchlorate, a strong oxidizing agent commonly used to make rocket and missile fuels as well as explosives,” according to the US Fifth Fleet, which added that it was the first time they had intercepted the substance.
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The raid also harvested more than 100 tons of urea, a chemical compound that can be used to make explosives.
The ship was sank by American forces on November 13, making it a danger to commercial shipping. The four crew members working on the ship were returned to Yemen two days later during an exchange at sea in the Gulf of Aden with the Yemeni coast guard.