Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari says an Iranian naval fleet is planning to head for the Atlantic Ocean for the first time after a port call in South Africa.
The 44th flotilla of the Iranian Navy, consisting of the Alvand destroyer and the Bushehr logistic vessel, embarked on a voyage for the high seas on October 5 to safeguard maritime routes used by the country's vessels and oil tankers against pirates.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Sayyari said the flotilla first crossed the Gulf of Aden and then docked at Tanzanian port city of Dar es Salaam on October 29 and remained there for three days.
The Iranian Navy commander added that the fleet is currently close to Mozambique's maritime border and plans to head for South Africa's territorial waters to call at a South African port if conditions of the sea allow it.
“The dispatched fleet of the Iranian Navy will continue to sail toward the Atlantic Ocean after South Africa if the conditions are suitable,” the commander said.
He emphasized that the presence of the 44th flotilla on the high seas displays the might and strength of the Iranian Navy.
“When a fleet establishes its presence in an ocean and the high seas, it shows the capabilities of the Iranian Army’s naval forces, which can hoist Iran’s flag on the high seas,” Sayyari said.
This can strengthen Iran’s ties with regional countries, prevent Iranophobia and convey Iran’s message of peace and friendship to other countries, he added.
The commander said Iranian naval fleets conduct a very important mission on the high seas and the Gulf of Aden by maintaining maritime security.
The 44th Navy flotilla also has a mission to ensure security for Iranian ships in the Indian Ocean, Sayyari added.
The flotilla successfully saved two Iranian ships from three pirate attacks on October 17 in the Gulf of Aden.
Gulf of Aden pirates, who mainly come from Somali coasts, attacked an Iranian merchant ship in a bid to highjack it but they were forced to flee after a heavy exchange of fire by the Iranian fleet.
The pirates also conducted two attacks on another Iranian merchant ship. They initially attacked the vessel with eight speedboats 46 miles south of the Yemeni city of Aden and later with 13 well-equipped boats 55 miles south of the port city.
However, the two attacks were repelled by the Iranian naval forces and the pirates were forced to retreat when they came under heavy fire.
In recent years, Iran’s Navy has increased its presence in international waters to protect naval routes and provide security for merchant vessels and tankers.
In line with international efforts against piracy, the Iranian Navy has been conducting patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008, safeguarding merchant containers and oil tankers owned or leased by Iran or other countries.
Iran’s Navy has managed to foil several attacks on both Iranian and foreign tankers during its missions in international waters.