Iranian navy vows to sail into America’s backyard

By Mark D. Faram

Source: NavyTimes

 

A top Iranian naval officer said the destroyer Sahand could lead a “flotilla” to the Western Atlantic later this year. (Iranian Army via AP)

A “flotilla” from Iran’s navy will visit the western Atlantic Ocean in the spring, according to Tehran’s official news agency.

In an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency published Friday, Rear Adm. Touraj Hasna Moqaddam said that the cruise “would take five months to complete” and feature Iran’s newest domestically-built destroyer, the Sahand.

On Dec. 1, Iran’s state TV reported the commissioning of the Sahand in the southern port of Bandar Abbas, at the mouth of the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea.

Moqaddam’s words echo similar announcements by other senior Iranian leaders telegraphing Atlantic deployments in recent years as a visible counterweight to ongoing U.S. warships that routinely sail the Persian Gulf.

No Iranian cruises to the Western Atlantic ever occurred but Tehran’s vessels began extending their reach to the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden on anti-piracy missions.

Iranian media reported that the Sahand-led tour likely would travel to Venezuela, an Iranian partner.

It’s the second Sahand that’s been operated by the Iranian navy but the only one that’s still afloat.

The U.S. Navy obliterated the first Sahand, a British-built warship, on April 18, 1988, in retaliation for an Iranian-laid mine that heavily damaged the guided-missile frigate Samuel B. Roberts four days earlier.

After firing on American warplanes above the Persian Gulf, the Sahand was rocked by both anti-ship missiles and bombs delivered by the destroyer Joseph Strauss and A-6E Intruder jets launched from the aircraft carrier Enterprise, according the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

A blaze swept the deck of the Sahand, eventually reaching the ship’s magazines, which detonated.

What remained of the vessel sank, killing scores of its crew.

The Iranian frigate Sahand burns after being hit by three Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Skipper rocket-propelled bombs, a Walleye laser-guided bomb and several and 1,000-pound bombs. (U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)