Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari says an Iranian naval fleet has entered the Atlantic Ocean for the first time after a port call in South Africa.
“For the first time, the 44th flotilla of the Iranian Navy, consisting of the Alvand destroyer and the Bushehr [logistic vessel], succeeded in circling the African continent and have sailed into the Atlantic Ocean,” Sayyari said at a press conference in Tehran on Monday.
He added that the two vessels are now docked at South Africa’s Port of Durban.
The dispatch of the 44th flotilla to the high seas shows the naval forces’ might and strength, he said and added that the Iranian Navy has also sent five other fleets carrying the message of peace and friendship to other countries.
The 44th fleet 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.
It 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. It later sailed through Mozambique's maritime border.
The flotilla successfully saved two Iranian ships from three pirate attacks on October 17 in the Gulf of Aden.
Elsewhere in the presser, Sayyari said the Iranian naval forces plan to hold massive drills, dubbed Velayat, in the Indian Ocean sometime in the Iranian calendar month of Bahman (January 20, 2017 to February 18).
The top commander added that the naval forces would also stage a specialized drill of submarines in the coming days and noted that Iran’s Navy has held 15 maneuvers since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20).
He said Iranian naval fleets have traveled to India, Pakistan, Oman, Tanzania, Azerbaijan and South Africa since March 20 and further plan to go to Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and the Indian Ocean countries as well as Southeast Asia.
Sayyari further said the Iranian Navy has managed to escort 3,844 Iranian merchant ships and oil tankers in the Gulf of Aden and emphasized that the naval forces would continue with their presence in the strategic area with the purpose of establishing lasting security.
“Today, we do not need others to supply our required equipment, weapons and ammunition and are meeting our needs ourselves,” the commander added.
Sayyari said Iranian destroyers have been equipped with surface-to-surface missiles with high ranges.
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.