The Iranian Navy has deployed its domestically built warship Jamaran to international waters for the first time as the vessel patrols for pirates in the Gulf of Aden region.
The Iranian Navy’s 16th fleet, comprising the Jamarn and light replenishment ship Bandar Abbas, set sail for the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden on Sunday with the aim of providing security for merchant vessels in the region.
“The main feature of this fleet of warships is the presence of the Islamic Republic’s destroyer, the Jamaran. This Iranian destroyer will go on a long sea voyage for the first time,” said Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari during a ceremony held on Sunday before the warships set out.
The Jamaran is Iran’s first locally built guided missile frigate. It is 94 metres long and has a displacement of 1500 tons. The first of four in the Mowj class, it was launched in February last year. Armament includes a 76 mm gun, 40 mm gun, 324 mm torpedoes and various missiles. A helicopter can be carried on the vessel’s helipad.
Sayyari said that the purpose of the patrol fleet was not to just guard against pirates but to demonstrate the Navy’s capabilities to the world. “According to international law, it is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s inalienable right to be present in the open seas and no country can take away this right.”
Sarrayi also said that the Iranian Navy’s “presence in the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal, south of the Indian Ocean and in international waters is at the top of the Navy’s agenda,” according to Press TV.
The Navy’s 15th fleet returned to Iran on Sunday after completing its 85 day mission in the Gulf of Aden.
Iran’s Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 to safeguard maritime trade and in particular ships and oil tankers owned or leased by Iran. Iranian naval ships have escorted around a thousand Iranian commercial ships and oil tankers in the Gulf of Aden and have had 30 major clashes with the pirates over the past two years.
In August Iran’s defence minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said that, “based on the doctrine to expand security in international waters, Iran strengthens its naval forces so it can, with the help of regional countries, move towards indigenous regional security. The message our…naval forces are sending other countries is that there is no need for the presence of foreign currents to provide security in this region.”
Iran’s navy has flexed its muscles this year by embarking on a number of significant deployments. In early June, the Iranian Navy Kilo class submarine Younus returned home after spending 68 days at sea with the 14th fleet sailing in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
In June Iran announced it was launching indigenous diesel-powered submarines. Iranian Navy deputy commander Rear Admiral Seyed Mahmoud Moussavi said that, “The new submarines, built by the committed Iranian experts, will join the naval combat fleet,” and would undergo sea trials to test their capabilities.
Moussavi added that Iran was willing to conduct naval exercises with neighbouring countries.
The Iranian Navy achieved a major milestone in February when the supply ship Kharg and frigate Alvand passed through the Suez Canal and docked in Syria on February 24. It marked the first time Iranian warships had travelled through the canal since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. The event caused great concern in Israel, which described the move as ‘political provocation’ and put its navy on alert.
In July the Iranian navy said it is planning to deploy warships into the Atlantic Ocean as part of a programme to sail international waters.
At the moment Iran’s navy is relatively small, as it has been designed for securing ports and coastal regions. The ocean going fleet comprises a half-dozen small frigates and destroyers from 1,500 to 2,000 tons, and three submarines of the 3,000 ton Kilo class, purchased from Russia in the 1990s. However, Iran is working on building indigenous ships, including frigates, and small submarines. It is also working on missile technology, notably in collaboration with China.