Iran’s Navy, Submarines and Pirates

Navy Commander: Iran to Unveil New Home-Made Submarine Soon

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran’s new home-made submarine, Fateh, will be unveiled in the next few months, Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said.

“Following the construction of Qadir (class) submarine by the Iranian Navy experts, Fateh submarine will be unveiled early next (Iranian) year (to start on March 20),” Sayyari said in the Southern city of Bushehr on Sunday.

He said that the Iranian Navy has also reached complete self-sufficiency in overhauling Kilo class (hi-tech) submarines due to its eye-catching progress in the last 20 years.

In relevant remarks in August, Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Gholam Reza Khadem Biqam announced that Iran has increased the power and efficiency of the missiles and torpedoes mounted on its newly-made Fateh submarines, stressing that Iran will implement any improvement made in systems and weapons of its new submarines in older subsurface vessels like Qadir class and even Kilo class which are used by the Navy.

Elsewhere, Sayyari referred to the presence of the Iranian fleets of warships in the international waters to protect the cargo ships and oil tankers from the pirates’ attacks, and said, “We have escorted and led away nearly 2,000 cargo ships and oil tankers from the danger zone due to the Navy’s might and power.”

The Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008, when Somali raiders hijacked the Iranian-chartered cargo ship, MV Delight, off the coast of Yemen.

According to UN Security Council resolutions, different countries can send their warships to the Gulf of Aden and coastal waters of Somalia against the pirates and even with prior notice to Somali government enter the territorial waters of that country in pursuit of Somali sea pirates.

The Gulf of Aden – which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea – is an important energy corridor, particularly because Persian Gulf oil is shipped to the West via the Suez Canal.

Sayyari said in February that Iran dispatched a flotilla of warships to the high seas, including the Red Sea, to protect the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against pirate attacks.

“The 29th flotilla of warship is moving towards the Gulf of Aden and has entered the Red Sea,” Sayyari told FNA last month.

Asked about Iran’s presence in the Atlantic Ocean, he said, “That will be done.”

“As the trans-regional states are now present in the free waters of the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf and, of course, we don’t allow their entrance in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s territorial waters at all, we can also be present in the world free waters without entering other countries’ territorial waters.”

Also in February, Sayyari confirmed the voyage of Iranian warships in the Atlantic Ocean, underlining that Iran is entitled to the right to send its troops to international waters.

“All countries, including Iran, are entitled to the right to be present in the free waters, and we don’t seek to violate any country’s territorial waters,” he said.

“The Army’s fleet of warships is now in the Gulf of Aden and they are moving towards the Atlantic Ocean,” Sayyari said on February 11.


Maritime Security News Note:
Iran’s prowess when it comes to thwarting pirates is legendary. According to Iran. The claim that, “We have escorted and led away nearly 2,000 cargo ships and oil tankers from the danger zone due to the Navy’s might and power” is one they’ve made before. In February, the Iranian Navy claimed to have foiled 150 pirate attacks in four years.

Western navies haven’t commented on either claim and it’s not known how they view Iran’s naval presence in the region. Few of the piracy incidents ‘thwarted’ by the Iranians ever make official reports and the vast majority remain unverified.

One notable exception was the hijacking of the Chinese owned, Panamanian-flagged MV Xiang Hua Men. The ship was hijacked in the Sea of Oman on Friday April 3rd 2012, near the Iranian port of Chabahar. Iranian forces pursued the ship, and Iranian commandos boarded the vessel, releasing the 28 Chinese crew and capturing nine pirates on board.

The incident saw legendary Somali pirate, Garaad, captured. Garaad was seen as a talisman by some pirates, thanks to his success. His gang were behind the hijacking of the MV Blida, which was later ransomed for $3.5 million. Garaad’s subsequent fate has never been made clear, and it was unknown whether he was in Chinese or Iranian custody following the rescue operation, although many believe he is now dead.

In 2012, Garaad made position 27 in the Lloyd’s List Top 100. With Afweyne in a Belgian prison following his movie sting, Isse Yuluh announcing his retirement from piracy and Garfanje apparently concentrating on land-based kidnap for ransom, it’s beginning to look like the old guard of Somali pirates really have turned their back on the water.

Probably not a bad idea, although I doubt the Iranians will be using subs for anti-piracy work…


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