U.S. Navy Seizes Shipment of Iranian Weapons

Iranian-made anti-tank missiles seized from the dhow (USN)

Published Feb 14, 2020 1:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

On February 9, the crew of the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Normandy boarded a dhow at an undisclosed location in the Middle East and discovered a large cache of weapons. 

The weapons seized include 150 "Dehlavieh" anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), which are Iranian-manufactured copies of Russian Kornet ATGMs. 

Other weapons components found aboard the dhow were also of Iranian design and manufacture, including three Iranian surface-to-air missiles, Iranian thermal imaging weapon scopes and Iranian components for unmanned aerial and surface vessels, as well as other munitions and advanced weapons parts.

According to the Navy, many of these weapons systems are identical to the weapons and weapon components seized by the destroyer USS Forrest Sherman in the Arabian Sea last November. Those weapons were determined to be of Iranian origin and were likely destined for Houthi rebels in Yemen. The UN Security Council has placed a weapons embargo on the Houthi faction; the U.S. and its allies supply weapons to the Saudi coalition backing the Yemeni government. 

The seized weapons are now in American custody, and will be assessed by multiple agencies and international partner organizations.

New details on Iranian weapons assistance

The UNSC's Panel of Experts on Yemen recently released its annual report on the Houthi-Saudi conflict, including an analysis of the weaponry seized by the USS Sherman last year. 

According to the panel, that earlier seizure netted 21 anti-tank guided missiles (likely Iranian-made), two previously unknown surface-to-air missiles, parts for an Iranian Quds-1 land attack cruise missile, parts for an Iranian C802 anti-ship cruise missile and components for a third, unidentified cruise missile. 

The shipment also included a large number of detonators, engines for small unmanned aerial vehicles, parts for the assembly of "waterborne improvised explosive devices" (bomb boats), thermal optical weapon sights and other components.

Quds missile components seized in November 2019 (UNSC)

C802 missile sections seized in November 2019 (UNSC)

Unidentified cruise missile seized in November 2019 (UNSC)

"Bomb boat" waterborne IED components seized in November 2019 (UNSC)