navy ship stars
© CC BY 2.0 / Official U.S. Navy Page / USS Sterett (DDG 104)
The vessel was transporting 40 tonnes of fertiliser, which could potentially be used to create explosives. The American Navy has detained a ship in the Gulf of Oman with cargo for the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The Navy said in a statement that its guided-missile destroyer, the USS Cole, and patrol ships had stopped and searched the sailboat that was en route to war-hit Yemen last Tuesday.

About 40 tonnes of urea fertiliser, known to be a key ingredient in homemade improvised explosive devices, were hidden on board
, according to the statement. The Iranian authorities have not commented on the matter yet.

The statement comes as British officials claimed on Sunday that a Royal Navy ship had captured illegal drugs worth about $26 million from a boat sailing through the Gulf of Oman on 15 January. The officials did not specify where the narcotics came from and the smuggling vessel's final destination.

The developments follow Houthi militants last month launching a massive missile and drone attack on military and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. A Houthi spokesperson claimed that a number of drones and missiles targeted the Ministry of Defence, King Khalid Airport, King Fahd Air Base in Taif and Aramco in Jeddah, as well as many other military sites.

Yemen has been ravaged by a conflict between government forces led by President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthi Ansar Allah movement for almost seven years. The situation was further complicated after Saudi Arabia joined the conflict on the side of Yemen's government in 2015, launching air, land, and sea operations against the Houthi movement.

Since February 2020, the Houthis have been carrying out a large-scale operation against the Yemeni Army in Marib to gain control over the province, which is also a political, military, and economic centre.

Last year, US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking argued that Iran's purported support of Yemen's Houthi movement is "quite significant and it's lethal", allegations that were rejected by Tehran as unsubstantiated.