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."
"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.
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.