As this publication reported on January 11th, 2023, two U.S. Navy SEALs were swept into the sea during a Maritime Interdiction Operation off the coast of Somalia in international waters of the Arabian Sea. Until now, USCENTCOM has been tight-lipped over the purpose of the mission.
USCENTCOM has confirmed that SEALs operating from USS Lewis B Puller (ESB 3) boarded the vessel and seized 17 crewmembers that were transporting Iranian “propulsion, guidance, and warheads for Houthi medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) and anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), as well as air defense associated components.” The United States Navy retained control over the crew members and sunk the vessel.
General Michael Erik Kurilla added:
“It is clear that Iran continues shipment of advanced lethal aid to the Houthis. This is yet another example of how Iran actively sows instability throughout the region in direct violation of U.N. Security Resolution 2216 and international law…We will continue to work with regional and international partners to expose and interdict these efforts, and ultimately to reestablish freedom of navigation.”
According to USCENTCOM this is the first seizure of advanced conventional weapons (ACW) bound for Yemen since Prosperity Guardian was established and the first seizure of advanced Iranian weapons to Yemen since 2019.
This report also contradicts Houthi reports that a missile strike caused the U.S. Navy SEALs to fall into the sea. The search remains ongoing.
USCENTCOM Seizes Iranian Advanced Conventional Weapons Bound for Houthis
On 11 January 2024, while conducting a flag verification, U.S. CENTCOM Navy forces conducted a night-time seizure of a dhow conducting illegal transport of advanced lethal aid from Iran to resupply Houthi… pic.twitter.com/yg4PuTZBh7
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) January 16, 2024