Iran, Russia, and China hold naval exercise with SA as observer

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Naval units from Iran, China and Russia commenced a joint naval exercise ‘Marine Security Belt 2024’ in the Gulf of Oman this week Tuesday, with a reported 15 or more ships involved and supported by naval helicopters drawn from the three countries.

Sources in Iran report that observers from South Africa, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Oman, and Pakistan participated in the exercise, which ends on Friday (the sea phase ended on Thursday).

Among the naval ships involved are the Russian missile cruiser Varyag, supported by the frigate Marshall Shaposhnikov, the Chinese guided-missile destroyer Urumqi, guided-missile frigate Linyi and replenishment vessel Dongpinghu. The Chinese vessels came from the 45th China Naval Escort Task Force off East Africa.

Iran has provided a total of ten naval vessels.

On Tuesday, ships from the three countries conducted tactical manoeuvring drills and subsequently carried out live firing against surface targets and aerial targets simulating unmanned air vehicles, according to a Russian Ministry of Defence news release. The firing drills also included nighttime firing.

On Wednesday, the ships were divided into two task groups – one composed of Russian and Iranian ships and the other composed of Chinese and Iranian ships – to carry out a hostage rescue drill, with two Iranian ships playing the role of hijacked merchant ships.

Iranian state media quoted Admiral Mostafa Tajaddini, spokesperson for the exercise, as saying the intention of the exercise includes strengthening the security of international maritime trade, combatting piracy and maritime terrorism.

It also involves the honing of experience in naval rescue and relief operations in addition to sharing operational and tactical experience.

Russia’s Defence Ministry has described the exercise as paying attention to the protection of maritime economic activity.

This is the fifth similar exercise involving the three nations, which is taking place in one of the most sensitive and important stretches of ocean.

Written by Africa Ports & Ships and republished with permission. The original article can be found here.