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HMAS Darwin seizes huge weapons haul from Somalia-bound fishing boat

HMAS Darwin intercepts a small-arms smuggler approximately 170 nautical miles off the coast of Oman. Photo: ABIS Sarah Ebsworth
Weapons seized by HMAS Darwin about 300 kilometres off the coast of Oman. Photo: ABIS Sarah Ebsworth

Australian sailors have seized a large weapons cache, including almost 2000 AK-47 assault rifles, from a fishing vessel in the Middle East.

HMAS Darwin's boarding team intercepted the fishing vessel about 300 kilometres off the coast of Oman and found 1989 AK-47 assault rifles along with 100 rocket propelled grenade launchers, 49 machine guns, spare barrels and mortar tubes hidden under fishing nets in the dhow.

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

The fishing boat was headed towards the Somalia coast.Chief of Joint Operations Command, Vice Admiral David Johnston, said the seizure on Darwin's first patrol was highly significant."One of the key reasons HMAS Darwin is deployed to the region is to contribute to global security and counter international terrorism," Vice Admiral Johnston said.

"The successful boarding and subsequent seizure of the weapons concealed under fishing nets highlights the need to remain vigilant in the region."HMAS Darwin is in the region as part of a multinational effort to prevent terrorism, piracy and drug smuggling, and to secure the maritime environment in the Middle East and the north east coast of Africa.

It is the ship's seventh deployment to the area.