Britain on Thursday (July 7) said one of its warships on patrol in the Gulf earlier this year seized advanced weaponry being smuggled from Iran towards Yemen, contravening a United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution.
The ship, HMS Montrose, intercepted speedboats carrying surface-to-air-missiles and engines for land attack cruise missiles while on routine patrols on two occasions in January and February, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
The speedboats were being operated by smugglers in international waters south of Iran, in the first instance of a UK warship interdicting vessels carrying such sophisticated weapons from the country, it added.
The illicit cargo was spotted on January 28 by a Wildcat helicopter equipped with sophisticated radar systems launched from the Montrose, according to the MoD.
The second operation, on February 25, also involved co-ordinated efforts with a US Navy destroyer, the USS Gridley, which deployed an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter “to provide critical overwatch”, the ministry said.
“We have a decades-long strategic relationship with the Royal Navy,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of US Naval Forces Central Command, the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and the multinational Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). smuggled
“Our continued collaboration on maritime interdictions in the Middle East reflects our extraordinary partnership and strong commitment to regional security and stability,” Cooper said.
Missiles used by the Houthis
The weapons were seized along routes historically used to traffic weapons unlawfully to Yemen, the US Navy said.
The seizures were spearheaded by British Royal Marines, who approached the speedboats on two inflatable vessels and secured and searched them, the MoD said.
The dozens of the packages containing the advanced weaponry were discovered and confiscated, before being taken to Britain for technical analysis.
The analysis found they contained multiple rocket engines for the Iranian-produced 351 land attack cruise missile and 358 surface-to-air missiles, the MoD said.