(USNewsMag.com) – For the first time since Houthi rebels began attacking ships in the Red Sea in November, the U.S. Navy has seized a shipment of Iranian weapons bound for Yemen.
According to a Jan. 16 statement from the Navy, a night-time seizure of a ship called a dhow was conducted Jan. 11 by U.S.CENTCOM Navy forces near the coast of Somalia. The Navy seized anti-ship cruise missiles and propulsion, guidance, and warheads for medium-range ballistic missiles. The CENTCOM statement said the weapons appear to be the same ones the Houthis have used to “threaten and attack innocent mariners” on ships in the Red Sea.
USCENTCOM Commander General Michael Erik Kurilla added that the seizure makes it clear that Iran is continuing to ship “lethal aid to the Houthis.” In the Gulf of Aden, Houthi rebels struck a U.S.-owned ship with a missile a day before the seizure. In the Red Sea, they also launched an anti-ship cruise missile at an American destroyer.
U.S. Navy forces sank the dhow after it was deemed unsafe, and the disposition of its 14 crewmembers is still being determined in accordance with international law.
Two Navy SEALs who were directly involved in the seizure remain at sea following the mission. While climbing aboard the vessel, a wave knocked one of the two special forces operators off a ladder, according to U.S. officials. The second SEAL jumped in the water to assist the first, which is part of the Navy SEAL protocol to help a partner in distress, before both vanished into the Gulf of Aden.
In a statement, Kurilla said that “an exhaustive search for our missing teammates” is being conducted.
Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have been attacking ships since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas to stop the Israeli air-and-ground offensive that targets Hamas in Gaza.
This is the first time since November 2019 that the Navy has seized advanced Iranian-manufactured ballistic and cruise missile components.
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