State media: Iran launches domestically made destroyer

Since 1992, Iran has been working to build a self-sufficient military. (File/AFP)
Updated 01 December 2018
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State media: Iran launches domestically made destroyer

  • State TV on Saturday reported it took six years to build the 1,300-ton vessel named Sahand after a mountain in northern Iran
  • The Sahand has a helicopter landing pad, is 96 meters long and can cruise at 25 knots

DUBAI: Iran's navy on Saturday launched a domestically made destroyer, which state media said has radar-evading stealth properties, as tensions rise with arch-enemy, the United States.
In a ceremony carried live on state television, the Sahand destroyer -- which can sustain voyages lasting five months without resupply -- joined Iran's regular navy at a base in Bandar Abbas on the Gulf.
The Sahand has a flight deck for helicopters, torpedo launchers, anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles and electronic warfare capabilities, state television reported.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran's nuclear programme in May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran's development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
The United States has said its goal is to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero. Senior Iranian officials have said that if Iran is not allowed to export then no other countries will be allowed to export oil through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf.
"This vessel is the result of daring and creative design relying on the local technical knowledge of the Iranian Navy... and has been built with stealth capabilities," Rear-Admiral Alireza Sheikhi, head of the navy shipyards that built the destroyer, told the state news agency IRNA.
Iran launched its first locally made destroyer in 2010 as part of a programme to revamp its navy equipment which dates from before the 1979 Islamic revolution and is mostly US-made.
Iran has developed a large domestic arms industry in the face of international sanctions and embargoes that have barred it from importing many weapons.
Separately, a naval commander said Sahand may be among warships that Iran plans to send on a mission to Venezuela soon.
"Among our plans in the near future is to send two or three vessels with special helicopters to Venezuela in South America on a mission that could last five months," Iran's deputy navy commander, Rear-Admiral Touraj Hassani Moqaddam, told the semi-official news agency Mehr.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week Iran should increase its military capability and readiness to ward off enemies, in a meeting with Iranian navy commanders.
Iran's navy has extended its reach in recent years, launching vessels in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden to protect Iranian ships from Somali pirates operating in the area.
The chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces said in 2016 that Iran may seek to set up naval bases in Yemen or Syria in the future, raising the prospect of distant footholds perhaps being more valuable militarily to Tehran than nuclear technology.


Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

Updated 22 May 2019
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Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

  • The acts of sabotage near the UAE coast highlight new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies
  • Experts say increased threat to navigation and global oil supplies not limited regionally but has global dimension

DUBAI: Amid rising tensions between the US and Iran, sabotage attacks on four commercial vessels off the coast of the UAE’s Fujairah port have raised serious questions about maritime security in the Gulf.

The incidents, which included attacks on two Saudi oil tankers, were revealed by the UAE government on May 12, drawing strong condemnation from governments in the Middle East and around the world as well as the Arab League.

Now experts have warned that the sabotage attacks highlight a new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies.

A Saudi government source said: “This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation, and adversely affects regional and international peace and security.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the incidents threatened international maritime traffic.

While crimes on the high seas, including piracy, have tapered off in recent years, the attacks on the ships, three of which are registered to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have called into question common assumptions about the Gulf’s stability.

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Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington D.C., said governments of the Gulf region are mandated to watch over oceans and waterways. “On top of this requirement is the need for a new regime of maritime coordination to prevent attacks on shipping because of the repercussions for logistical chains, corporate strategies and insurance rates,” he told Arab News.

The sabotage attacks took place east of Fujairah port, outside the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway through which most Gulf oil exports pass and which Iran has threatened to block in the event of a military confrontation with the US.

Johan Obdola, president of the International Organization for Security and Intelligence, said the recent attacks underscore the need for closer intelligence-coordinated capabilities among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including satellite communication and maritime or vessel security technology.

“The threats to oil tankers are not limited to the Gulf, but have a global dimension,” he said.

According to Obdola: “A coordinated joint task force integrating oil, intelligence security and military forces should be (established) to project and prepare (for potential future attacks). This is a time to be as united as ever.”

GCC countries have intensified security in international waters, the US navy said. Additionally, two US guided-missile destroyers entered the Gulf on May 16 in response to what the US called signs of possible Iranian aggression.

“The attack has brought (the region) a bit closer to a possible military confrontation amid the escalation in tensions between the US and Iran,” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a former chairman of the Arab Council for Social Sciences, told Arab News.

He said Iran is purposely dragging Saudi Arabia, the UAE and possibly other Gulf countries into its fight with the US. “The credibility of the US is at stake and Trump has said he will meet any aggression with unrelenting force. If Iran continues on this path, we might see some kind of a military showdown on a limited scale.”

Given the importance of the region’s oil supplies to the US, Abdulla said “it’s not just the responsibility of Arab Gulf states but an international responsibility” to keep the shipping lanes safe.