Defence Web – November 28, 2011
Iran’s navy plans to hold the massive Velayat 90 naval exercise in the Sea of Oman and north Indian Ocean in the near future in order to display Iran’s defensive and deterrent naval power, its navy chief says.
The exercise will be different to those held previously due to the scale of equipment and larger exercise theatre, according to Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari.
It is expected that the Iranian Navy will deploy destroyers, missile-launchers, heavy and light submarines and aircraft for the exercise, as occurred during Velayat 89 in May last year.
At a press conference on Saturday Sayyari said that Iran’s Navy will take delivery of three domestically manufactured light submarines of the Ghadir class today, which is National Navy Day.
Commenting on the United States’ joint war games with certain regional countries, he said such moves are “psychological warfare”, which could not help improve security in the region.
He also advised regional countries to try to stand on their own feet because holding joint military exercises with arrogant powers will not enhance their military capability, the Tehran Times reports.
Sayyari also gave an update of Iran’s anti-piracy efforts. So far Iranian warships have escorted 1 300 merchant ships and oil tankers the north of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden and engaged in more than 100 clashes with pirates. 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. Sayyari added that 16 flotillas have been dispatched to open seas over the past two years.
The Iranian Navy has been developing its presence in international waters since last year, in order to protect vessels against pirates and to showcase Iran’s naval power.
In mid-October the Iranian Navy deployed its domestically built warship Jamaran to international waters for the first time as part of counter-piracy operations.
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.
“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,” Sayyari said in October.
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.
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.