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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 April 2019

Iran to send warships to Atlantic in response to US carrier in Gulf

The flotilla will comprise of the new guided missile frigate destroyer escort unveiled last month

Iran's Revolutionary Guard use an abandoned warship as a target during exercises in the Arabian Gulf. AP
Iran's Revolutionary Guard use an abandoned warship as a target during exercises in the Arabian Gulf. AP

Iran is to send a warship to the Atlantic Ocean in March, state media reported on Saturday, in what was an apparent response to the United States sending an aircraft carrier into the Gulf.

"The navy has had a plan to deploy a flotilla to the Atlantic Ocean for a few years and now everything seems prepared to launch the mission," said Fars news agency, which is considered close to Iran's military.

The mission is set to begin early in the Iranian new year, which begins in late March, Rear Admiral Touraj Hassani-Moghadam told IRNA news agency on Friday.

The deployment, which is set to last for five months, will be the Iranian navy’s longest for a decade.

The move comes after Iran launched war games across the Gulf last month following the entry of a US aircraft carrier into the strategic waterway. Helicopters, naval vessels, rockets and drones were all used in the drills that were viewed as Iran displaying its strength to Washington.

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When the John C Stennis warship entered the Gulf, Iran Revolutionary Guard speedboats shadowed the vessel as tensions remain high.

“Hopefully, with these exercises, our enemies will realise more than ever how devastating our response would be to any move by them,” Mohammad Ali Jafari, chief of the Revolutionary Guards, told Iran’s state news agency after the drills.

The new deployment will comprise the new guided missile frigate destroyer escort Sahand, which was unveiled just last month, and the recently upgraded 33,000-ton fuel ship Kharg.

Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard aboard a speedboat shadow and watch the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. AP
Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard aboard a speedboat shadow and watch the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. AP

The vessels are expected to dock in a friendly Latin American country such as Venezuela, Fars said.

The ships are among Iran's largest and both are capable of carrying helicopters.

The Sahand is a more advanced version of the Iranian-built Jamaran class which went into service over the past decade.

It is a radar-evading stealth ship capable of electronic warfare, Rear-Admiral Alireza Sheikhi told IRNA last month.

Updated: January 5, 2019 02:34 PM

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