August 30, 2018 – USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet, seized an illicit shipment of arms from a stateless skiff in the international waters of the Gulf of Aden, on Aug. 28.
The skiff was determined to be stateless following a flag verification boarding, conducted in accordance with international law. Illicit cargo discovered by the Dunham’s visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team included over 1,000 weapons.
“Our ship routinely conducts maritime security operations with our highly-trained VBSS team incorporating both on and off ship intelligence assets to help locate vessels,” said Cmdr. John Hamilton, Dunham’s commanding officer. “Ensuring the free flow of commerce for legitimate traffic and securing the sea lanes of communication continue to be paramount to the U.S. Navy and its regional partners and allies, and I am proud of Jason Dunham’s Sailors for accomplishing the mission.”
Dunham located a dhow transferring covered packages to a skiff on Aug. 27. On Aug. 28, Dunham conducted a flag verification boarding and determined the skiff to be a stateless vessel. Subsequently, the boarding team discovered a cache of over 1,000 AK-47 automatic rifles.
The skiff’s engines were inoperable, and the distressed mariners were brought aboard Dunham as part of a safety-of-life-at-sea (SOLAS) operation. The mariners were evaluated by the ship’s medical personnel and were uninjured.
The original source of the weapons has not yet been identified. The weapons are in U.S. custody awaiting final disposition.
The mariners were transferred to the Yemeni Coast Guard.
The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses nearly 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The region is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab-al-Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.