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Iranian flotilla returns after round-the-world cruise amid tensions with US

May 21, 2023 at 2:51 pm

Iranian navy stand on the Kharg ship at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia on February 27, 2020. [Anton Raharjo – Anadolu Agency]

Iran on Sunday welcomed back a Navy flotilla comprising Moudge-class frigate Dena and Makran forward base ship after a round-the-world cruise amid tensions with the US, Anadolu reports.

At a ceremony held in the southern coastal city of Bandar Abbas, the crew members of the Iranian Navy’s 86th flotilla were received by top Iranian army officials, including chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces Major General Mohammad Bagheri.

The two-ship surface group, according to Iranian media, broke the record for the distance covered by an Iranian flotilla in international waters and came amid tensions with the US.

Speaking at Sunday’s ceremony, Gen. Bagheri hailed the flotilla’s voyage as an “outstanding achievement” and said it exemplified Iran’s maritime prowess.

He said the voyage came amid unprecedented sanctions on Iran by Washington.

In February, the US Treasury said in a statement that two Iranian vessels, the IRIS MAKRAN and the frigate IRIS DENA, had been identified “as property in which the government of Iran has an interest.”

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“The forward base ship IRIS MAKRAN (MAKRAN), an oil tanker that was repurposed for naval operations and maintains UAV launch capabilities, is currently conducting an international voyage. The naval frigate IRIS DENA (DENA) is accompanying the MAKRAN on this voyage,” it said at the time.

The two-ship flotilla embarked on the round-the-world journey on September 20 last year from Bandar Abbas and sailed across the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean.

In late January, the Iranian Navy flotilla was reported to have arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Last week, after the ships docked at Oman’s Salalah port upon its return to Iran, Navy commander Real Admiral Shahram Irani said the US had failed to prevent it from sailing through the Panama Canal.

The flotilla entered the first naval zone of the country on Saturday in the port city of Bandar Abbas and was welcomed by Rear Admiral Shahram Irani and other senior navy officials.

Shahrami said during the ceremony that the successful voyage shows the US-led world order “has been replaced by a multi-polar world order.”

In his message on Saturday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hailed the “grand and successful naval mission” of the Iranian Navy flotilla.