Iranian Warships Set Sail for Their First-ever Foray Into the Atlantic

In 2012, Iran said it aimed to put warships in international waters off the U.S. coast within the next few years.

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Two Iranian warships set sail for the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday in the navy's first-ever mission there, Iranian state TV reported.

The voyage comes amid an ongoing push by Iran to demonstrate its ability to project power across the Middle East and beyond. It has also sent its warships to Syrian waters in recent years.

The report said that the destroyer Sabalan and the logistic helicopter carrier Khark have embarked on a three-month voyage.

"The warships will have the task of securing shipping routes as well as training new personnel," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Iran's navy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayyari as saying.

It said the ships, carrying some 30 navy academy cadets for training along with their regular crews, left the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. It did not mention any ports of call.

Iran has regularly deployed warships to the Gulf of Aden off the eastern coast of Africa to fight piracy and protect commercial ships.

The recent Iranian naval surge is also seen as a response to United States naval deployment near the Islamic Republic's coasts in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Navy's 5th fleet is based in Bahrain — across the gulf from Iran.

In 2012, Iran said it aimed to put warships in international waters off the U.S. coast within the next few years, as well as to extend its reach as far as Antarctica.

Iran's navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari briefing media on an upcoming naval exercise, in a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011Credit: AP

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