Iran is moving a group of warships to the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in the country’s history, as its navy held a ceremony on Tuesday in honor of the launch, Iranian media are reporting.
The semi-official Fars News Agency reported that Iranian Navy Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Seyed Mahmoud Moussavi told the sailors gathered in southern Iran that the flotilla bears a message of peace and friendship to the world and aims to demonstrate the Islamic Republic’s defensive power.
“The flotilla, which is the first dispatched to the Atlantic, but the 29th one dispatched to the international waters, consists of Khark logistic and helicopter-carrier warship and Sabalan destroyer. The warships should sail 25,000 nautical kilometers in the next three months,” Fars reported on Tuesday.
The ships will also carry some 30 navy academy cadets in training, according to the Associated Press, which quoted Iranian television.
The Iranian news service says that this is the first flotilla of warships heading to the Atlantic, though Iran has long expressed a desire to make its naval mark in the western hemisphere.
Neither Fars nor Iranian TV said if the ships would be docking in any countries on the Atlantic shores.
The AP noted that “Iran aims to demonstrate the ability to project its military power across the Middle East and beyond” and that the recent surge of Iranian naval missions is a response to the the U.S. naval deployment near Iran’s coast in the Persian Gulf.
TheBlaze reported over the weekend about concerted efforts by Iran to improve ties with U.S. adversaries in Latin America including Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia.
In 2011, Iran raised the possibility of deploying warships close to the U.S. coast. The official IRNA news agency then quoted Iranian naval chief Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari saying, “Like the arrogant powers that are present near our marine borders, we will also have a powerful presence close to American marine borders.”
Iran has previously deployed ships to the Gulf of Aden, the Mediterranean and through the Suez Canal.
At the end of last year, Iranian commanders voiced the intention to deploy warships to the Atlantic Ocean.
In November, Sayyari said that Iran’s next flotilla would have a mission of protecting Iranian cargo ships and oil tankers from piracy. An Iranian sea vessel fell victim to Somali pirates off the coast of Yemen in 2008.
“The Navy’s next flotilla will be dispatched to either the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic on January 21-Feb 20,” he said, adding that the ships would pass through the Mediterranean en route to the Atlantic Ocean.