The Iranian Navy has thwarted a pirate attack against an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden and prevented pirates from hijacking the vessel.
“An oil tanker was attacked by pirates 35 miles Southeast of the Gulf of Aden,” Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Seyed Mahmoud Moussavi said yesterday. He said that after Iranian Navy forces appeared on the scene, the boats fled the area and the oil tanker was able to continue on its way.
Iran’s Fars News Agency reports that the Iranian Navy dispatched its 18th flotilla of warships to the Gulf of Aden on January 21 to protect the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against Somali pirates.
Iran’s Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008, when the Iranian-chartered cargo ship MV Delight was hijacked off the coast of Yemen. 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.
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.
According to the International Maritime Bureau, as of January 19 there have been 19 pirate attacks around the world this year, versus 439 last year. None of this year’s attacks have been successful, while 45 vessels were hijacked last year. Somali pirates have this year been responsible for seven attacks and they are presently holding nine vessels and 151 hostages.
According to the Bureau, the most recent attack came on Saturday around 620 nautical miles northeast of Mogadishu. A general cargo ship noticed a mother ship lowering a skiff with five armed pirates, who approached the vessel. The onboard armed security team fired warning flares at the pirates, which they ignored. They only aborted the attack when the security team fired warning shots at the skiff.