Iran has decided to temporarily put off plans to deploy warships to the Atlantic Ocean and sail near U.S. maritime borders, a senior naval official has told Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.
The Islamic Republic had announced in January its intention to move a group of warships to the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in the country’s history, and as Iranian media reported earlier this year even held a naval ceremony in honor of the launch.
Then in February, a senior Iranian naval commander said the ships would sail close to U.S. maritime borders, a move believed to be a response to U.S. naval deployments in the Persian Gulf.
Fars reported on Sunday that the Iranian Navy has now changed the mission of the 29th flotilla, calling the warships back home before they entered the Atlantic Ocean. However, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said that a different group of ships would be deployed to the Atlantic.
"The Navy's 30th flotilla of warships which will be dispatched in the future will be comprised of the Islamic Republic's Alvand destroyer, Bushehr logistic warship and a helicopter," Sayyari told Fars, but did not explain why the plans had been changed.
"The mission of any fleet of warships is specified and they are dispatched to the free waters on the basis of certain plannings,” the top military official said. “But considering the conditions of the region, it's possible that the mission of a flotilla is changed; for instance, if the pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden are intensified, some changes will be made in the mission of the fleets of warships.”
“All countries, including Iran, are entitled to the right to be present in the free waters, and we don’t seek to violate any country’s territorial waters,” Sayyari said in February.
"Like the arrogant powers that are present near our maritime borders, we will also have a powerful presence close to the American marine borders," Sayyari was quoted by Fars as saying in 2011.