Khamenei Lauds Iran's Naval Might as Mini-Armada That Terrorised US on High Seas Returns Home
14:33 GMT 11.09.2021 (Updated: 14:44 GMT 11.09.2021)
Iran deployed a pair of warships on a 45,000 km journey spanning three oceans in May, with the trip including the Islamic Republic's first-ever deployment in the Atlantic Ocean, as well as a stopover in Russia to take part in a grand naval parade.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has heaped praise on Iran's Navy over the "momentous naval mission" carried out by the Sahand destroyer and the Makran forward base and support vessel during their 133-day, cross-oceanic, cross-continental voyage.
"I express my congratulations on the mighty and honourable return of the 75th Flotilla of the Naval Force of the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran from the daunting mission in the Atlantic Ocean, which was conducted for the first time in the country's navigation history", Khamenei said, in a message sent to Iranian Army Commander Maj. Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi on Saturday.
Ordering the military to continue to "maintain and upgrade" its capabilities, the supreme leader asked Mousavi to convey his personal "gratitude and appreciation to the commander and to every single member of the flotilla" over the success of the mission.
The 75th fleet returned to its home port on Tuesday after a whirlwind, 45,000-km (28,000-nautical mile) trip that took it across three oceans and past 55 countries on three continents. The flotilla set sail from Bandar Abbas in May, travelling through the northern and western Indian Ocean, past the Cape of Good Hope and into the South Atlantic, where it sailed northward. In June, US officials and media expressed concerns that the ships were on route to Venezuela – Iran's Latin American ally, and that they may have been carrying economic assistance or even weapons. Instead, the ships continued north into the northern Atlantic Ocean, past the English Channel and into the Baltic Sea, docking in St. Petersburg to take part in a grand parade dedicated to the 325th anniversary of the founding of the Russian Navy in late July.
'Gates of the Atlantic Opened to Us'
Iran's naval officers appeared to be mindful
of the psychological impact their ships' presence in places they'd never been before had on the United States. In July, Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi, then commander of Iran's Navy, said the flotilla's deployment sent "a special message" to America.
"The United states is concerned that today, for the first time in Iran's history, the gates of the Atlantic have been opened to us. The Americans have set up bases around us over the years, and today they are terrified when we are 5,000 km away. This fear is because the presence of Iran breaks the hegemony of the United States", Khanzadi said.
Rear Adm. Shahram Irani, who replaced Khanzadi in August following presidential elections, emphasised
last week that the flotilla was able to complete the trip without assistance from any other nation, and said that the warships did not need to make any port calls. He promised that Iran would continue to maintain its "determining presence in the oceans".
The Sahand is a Moudge-class (literally "Wave-class") warship with a 2,500-tonne displacement, is 95 metres long, and has a complement of 140 officers and seamen. The ship's equipment includes long-range radar, electronic warfare and decoy systems, naval guns, cannons, and machine guns, as well as surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, in addition to anti-submarine torpedoes and a landing bay sufficient to hold one helicopter.
The Makran, named after the coastal region of Baluchistan, is a new class of ship for Iran's Navy built from a converted oil tanker. The 230 metre-long, 111,000+ tonne vessel is designed to serve as a mobile sea base for ultra-long-range naval operations, and is able to transport fuel, supplies, weapons, and a wide variety of military equipment both in its hull and on its deck. Its defences reportedly include rocket-launching speedboats and submersibles, drones, and helicopters, as well as advanced cruise missiles. The ship is also theoretically able to deploy almost any road-mobile piece of armament in use by the Iranian Army, coastal defence, or air defence forces.