8th Jun 2021

Source Credit to | CHRIS EGER

The U.S. Navy cruiser USS Monterey spent 36 hours last week cataloging a helicopter pad's worth of Chinese and Russian-made munitions.

The warship, acting under customary international law, stopped a stateless dhow in the Arabian Sea for a routine inspection in international waters. The fishing vessel turned out to be packed deep with, as detailed by the Navy, "advanced Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles, thousands of Chinese Type 56 assault rifles, and hundreds of PKM machine guns, sniper rifles, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers."

seized weapons cache
The weapons were shipped in green plastic bundles (All photos: U.S. Navy)
seized weapons cache
...and plastic drainage tubes.
seized weapons cache
Looks like Crazy Ahmed’s going out of business clearance sale.
seized weapons cache
Closer inspection shows most of the Type 56 "spikers" to be AKMS-style under folders.
seized weapons cache
There are also several conspicuous Dragunov SVD-style sniper rifles and what look to be Steyr HS 50 anti-materiel rifles. Unlicensed copies of the HS 50 have been made in Iran (Sayyad AM-50) and Syria (Golan S-01) for over a decade.
seized weapons cache
That's a lot of RPG rockets. Note the cruiser's remote-controlled MK 38 25mm chain guns at each end of the helicopter deck, seen at the top left and right of the image between a VLS missile launcher. 
"The source and intended destination of the materiel is currently under investigation," said U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. The dhow and its crew, meanwhile, was released, sans hardware.

Last week’s incident is not the first time that a large munitions shipment was interdicted in the region that is home to various Islamic radical groups and an ongoing civil war backed by Iran on one side and Saudi Arabia on the other. Three years ago, the destroyer USS Jason Dunham found a dhow with over 1,000 AK variants individually wrapped in plastic sleeves inside green bundles.

Back in 2016, the U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship USS Sirocco stopped another stateless dhow in the Arabian Sea, which upon inspection was packed to the gills with munitions en route from Iran to Yemen. That haul included a stockpile of 1,500 AK-47s, 200 RPG launchers, and 21 DShK and KPV type heavy machine guns. It came just after French and Australian ships halted similar seagoing smugglers. The French, for their part, later passed on the seized guns to the Central African Republic – formerly the colony of French Equatorial Africa – as military aid.