An Iranian navy destroyer ship has reached the Atlantic Ocean, Iran’s deputy army commander, Admiral Habibullah Sayyari said, according to official news agency IRNA.
Accompanied by a logistical vessel, the ship’s voyage marks the first time Iran has been able to reach the Atlantic using naval vessels without docking in any international ports, Sayyari said. The ships set sail over a month ago from the port of Bandar Abbas in Iran, he added.
The ships, a destroyer named “Sahand” and a logistics vessel called “Makran,” are being monitored by the US, and the intelligence community is working to assess what Iran’s intentions are.
“The 77th strategic naval fleet of the Navy, comprising of the ‘Sahand’ destroyer and the ‘Makran’ ship, is present in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time to demonstrate the capabilities of Iran in the maritime arena,” Sayyari said.
Satellite imagery reveals one of them is carrying a type of small, fast-attack boats that Iran has used to harass US naval ships in the Persian Gulf. However, multiple US officials told CNN last week that it is unclear if the ships are carrying any weapons.
Tehran has not said where the ships are headed, but they may be going to Venezuela, a US-sanctioned, but important trade partner to Iran.
“Navigating in international waters is a legitimate right of the Iranian army’s strategic navy, and we will continue this path with full force and power,” Sayyari said according to IRNA.
“The fleet continues on its longest naval mission to the North Atlantic,” he added,
Iran has repeated its intention of sending navy warships to the Atlantic over the past few years.
In 2018 and 2019, Iranian navy officials issued statements to state media on plans to send the “Sahand” to the Atlantic. But until now, the plans never materialized.
The voyage comes just weeks after one of the largest vessels in the Iranian navy caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Oman.