TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian Navy commander announced that the country’s 35th flotilla of warships has foiled 4 pirate attacks on Iranian and foreign cargo ships and oil tankers during its 3-month-long mission in the Gulf of Aden.
Commander of the Iranian Navy’s Base in the Southern Zone Rear Admiral Ebrahim Ashkani said that the country’s 35th fleet of warships has sailed in international waters for 90 days, and mentioned that during its mission the flotilla escorted 150 oil tankers and ships, clashed with pirates in four cases and gave swift response to the SOS messages of three foreign vessels with Liberia, Malta and Hong Kong flags.
Addressing a ceremony to welcome the return of the 35th flotilla of warships to the Iranian waters on Thursday, he said, “The 36th fleet will be sent to the (Gulf of Aden) region with the goal of establishing security and conveying the message of peace.”
His remarks came after the Iranian Navy’s 35th fleet of warships rescued 2 foreign cargo vessels in the Gulf of Aden after fierce battles with pirates in August.
“After receiving an SOS message from a foreign trade vessel in the Gulf of Aden last night, the Navy’s 35th fleet of warships rushed to the scene and opened heavy fire on the pirates and forced them to escape the scene,” Iranian Navy Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Seyed Mahmoud Moussavi said last month.
He said after they were defeated and failed in their first attack, the pirates sought to hijack another foreign cargo ship in the same region but the swift action of the Iranian warships killed their plot in the bud.
Moussavi said the pirates raided the first cargo ship with 6 heavily equipped boats and the second one with 12 boats, but after facing the Iranian warships’ strong reaction, they fled the Gulf of Aden towards the Somali coasts at a high speed.
He added that it was the Iranian warships’ 188th anti-piracy battle since the country started sending its fleets to the high seas.
The Admiral explained that in all such confrontations the pirates have been defeated and shooed away.
Also last month, the Iranian Navy’s 35th flotilla of warships repelled an attack by pirates, who were equipped with different types of heavy weapons, on a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden.
According to Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the pirates were armed with different military equipment and weapons and planned to seize a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, but the Iranian warships’ swift action thwarted their plot.
“Two days ago in the Gulf of Aden, one of our country’s oil tankers was attacked by 4 or 5 boats, each of them carrying 5 people armed with RPGs, Kalashnikov rifles and grenades,” he said.
“Since we escort our ships and they are supported by the Navy’s warships and special operation teams, the pirates fled the region after heavy and long clashes,” Sayyari said.
The Iranian Navy’s 35th flotilla of warships left Bandar Abbas port, in Southern Hormozgan province, for the Gulf of Aden in June to protect the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against pirates.
The Navy’s 35th fleet, comprising Bandar Abbas logistic warship and Alvand destroyer, was conducting anti-piracy patrols in the high seas and Gulf of Aden.
The mission of the 35th fleet started after the 34th flotilla of warships, comprised of Alborz destroyer and Bushehr helicopter-carrier warship, returned to Iran after about three months of missions in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.
In relevant remarks in April, Sayyari reiterated Iran’s continued presence in the international waters, and said the country has long-term plans for deployment in the high seas, including the Gulf of Aden.
“Building different destroyers, missile-launching frigates and warships, logistic warships and submarines to continue and expand the presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Navy in free waters is a main plan on the agenda of the Navy in the current (Iranian) year (which started on March 21) to promote this Force’s scientific, military and defensive power,” Sayyari told FNA.
The Navy commander reiterated Iran’s long-term plans for deploying in regional and international waters, specially the Gulf of Aden.
Sayyari expressed the hope that the 35th and 36th fleets of warships would also be dispatched to the international waters, including the Gulf of Aden, to protect the Iranian cargo ships and oil tankers against the pirate attacks.
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.