U.S. Coast Guard Seized Iranian Missile Parts Shipment

Iran arms seizure
U.S. forces put on display the arms seized from a vessel in the Arabian Sea bound of the Houthis (CENTCOM)

Published Feb 15, 2024 12:14 PM by The Maritime Executive


The U.S. Central Command revealed the details of a recent large arms seizure that they said was traveling from Iran to the Houthi militants in Yemen as they also continued to detail their daily assaults on Houthi weapons. Despite the attacks, the missile launches are however continuing although at a lesser pace.

In the past 48 hours, the U.S. and UK have reported just two missile launches both of which were aimed into the Gulf of Aden. Today, the report said a master of a vessel, which UK security consultants Ambrey identified only as a bulker, reported a single explosion in the distance. The incident took place approximately 85 nautical miles east of Aden.

According to the report from Ambrey, the vessel received minor damage from shrapnel from the nearby explosion. The UK Maritime Trade Organizations said the master informed them that the crew and vessel were safe and continuing on their voyage. 

The Houthi's spokesperson later issued a statement saying they had targeted a "British ship," which was identified as the Lycavitos (58,786 dwt). Registered in Barbados and built in 2007, the bulk carrier is owned by Helikon Shipping of Greece. Her AIS shows she departed Mizushima, Japan and scheduled to transit the Suez Canal on February 20. 

Before this latest incident, the U.S. reports the Houthis also fired a single missile late on February 13 into the Gulf of Aden. CENTCOM says “U.S. Navy ships tracked the missile but took no action because the missile was not projected to impact near any ships.”


USCG cutter made the seizure on January 28 (CENTCOM)


They are also reporting that more than two weeks ago, the U.S. Coast Guard effected the second largest arms seizure since the security efforts began. The USCG fast-response cutter Clarence Sutphin Jr., one of six assigned to the Middle East and operating out of Bahrain since 2022, intercepted the cache of Iranian weapons intended for the Houthi.

The cutter while on patrol on January 28 located and boarded a dhow in the Arabian Sea.  CENTCOM reports, “The boarding team discovered over 200 packages that contained medium-range ballistic missile components, explosives, unmanned underwater/surface vehicle (UUV/USV) components, military-grade communication and network equipment, anti-tank guided missile launcher assemblies, and other military components.”

The U.S. is also continuing its strikes to take out what it says are various forms of weapons prepared to launch from the Houthi-controlled regions of Yemen. During a period of just over six hours yesterday, the U.S. reports it destroyed seven mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, three mobile unmanned aerial vehicles, and one explosive unmanned surface vessel, all of which they report were ready to launch. On Tuesday, February 13, the U.S. reported it also destroyed one anti-ship cruise missile that was prepared to launch.

The leader of the militants on Thursday accused the U.S. of having conducted around 40 strikes this week alone on their forces. Despite this, the Houthis are calling the efforts a great success and vowed to continue to disrupt shipping in the Red Sea.