BATH, Maine — A U.S. Navy destroyer built at Bath Iron Works in 1999 has seized thousands of illegal weapons off the Somalia coast.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Winston Churchill (DDG 81) boarded two stateless dhows in the Indian Ocean Feb. 11-12 as part of maritime security operations, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet said in a release.
The destroyer's Visit, Board, Search and Seizure, and Advanced Interdiction teams seized thousands of AK-47 assault rifles, heavy sniper rifles, light machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, barrels, stocks, optical scopes, and weapons systems, the Navy said.
The source of weapons has not been identified.
According to the Navy, the crews of the dhows were provided food and water before being released.
“This joint team [Army, Navy and Coast Guard] on board Churchill came together to successfully execute this operation over the course of two days in the Indian Ocean. These operations prevent nefarious actors from illegally spreading their lethal aid,” Cmdr. Timothy Shanley, commanding officer of Churchill, said in a Navy news release.
“We are proud of the combined efforts of the AIT and Churchill crew members for executing dynamic and demanding boardings,” Lt. Travis Dopp, assistant leader of the Churchill's AIT, said in a release. “We are proud to have a positive impact on the safety and security of coalition forces by interdicting shipments of lethal aid.”