Australian warship seizes large weapons cache in the Middle East

Rifles seized by HMAS Darwin, Image: Royal Australian Navy

Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Darwin has uncovered and seized a large weapons cache after boarding a small fishing vessel approximately 170 nautical miles (313 kilometres) off the coast of Oman.

The frigate’s crew initially conducted a flag verification boarding. After assessing the vessel to be stateless, HMAS Darwin searched the vessel and discovered 1989 AK-47 assault rifles, 100 rocket propelled grenade launchers, 49 PKM general purpose machine guns, 39 PKM spare barrels and 20 60mm mortar tubes.

The weapons were seized under United Nations sanctions which authorise interdiction on the high seas of illicit weapons destined for Somalia.

Vice Admiral David Johnston, Australian Chief of Joint Operations, said: “The seizure on Darwin’s first patrol of such a large haul of illicit weapons is highly significant. Australia worked as part of the multinational Combined Maritime Forces to discover and seize these illegal weapons.”

HMAS Darwin is deployed as part of the CMF and is assigned to the Australian led Combined Task Force 150. CMF is a multinational effort to prevent terrorism, piracy and drug smuggling, encourage regional cooperation and promote a secure maritime environment in the Middle East and off the east coast of Africa.

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