The Iranian Navy has announced that its newly-built missile-launching warship will soon join the country’s naval fleet in the Caspian Sea, the Iranian media reports. "In a very near future in the current year, a ceremony will be held to equip the Navy's northern fleet (in the Caspian Sea) with 'Separ' missile-launching warship," Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told a gathering of Navy personnel and commanders in Makran region. The new Peykan-class warship is reportedly being built by Bandar Anzali’s Shahid Tamjidi naval industries and will be ready for operation soon. He also unveiled a plan to equip the country’s forces with missile-launching warship called Separ and a submarine named Fateh. Sayyari hailed the Iranian Navy’s increased capability to manufacture its weapons and other needed equipment domestically.
Comment: Iranian leaders often exaggerate about the country’s power and capabilities, particularly its naval assets and their presence in international waters. But the Islamic Republic has put increased emphasis on developing its naval capabilities in recent years. Sanctions relief from the lifting of nuclear-related international sanctions in January 2016 may also have helped Tehran to invest more on its Navy, including on warships and submarines.
In February, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan said that his country should begin using nuclear technology “in the field of naval propulsion systems” in order to enhance the Iranian Navy’s “maneuvering power and capability.” And late last year, the Iranian chief of staff of the armed forces, Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, called for setting up naval bases in Yemen and Syria – triggering alarm among Sunni Gulf states, which are already concerned about Iranian expansionism in the region.
The Iranian naval forces have also broadened the geographical scope of their operations. Sayyari announced two months ago that the Iranian naval forces were making efforts to expand their presence and boost security in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, and the Bab al-Mandeb. And in January, he claimed that his forces, “equipped with advanced military systems,” were proving to be a “powerful presence in the international waters” of the African continent.
U.S. Navy commanders repeatedly express the concern that Iranian naval forces are disrupting international navigation by “harassing” warships passing through the strategic Strait of Hormuz. They caution that such incidents in future could result in miscalculation and trigger an armed confrontation. According to the U.S. Navy officials, the George H.W. Bush – a U.S. aircraft carrier – confronted a number of Iranian Navy fast-attack boats approaching a U.S.-led, five-vessel flotilla as it entered the Strait on March 21. The incident reportedly prompted the U.S. warship to send helicopter gunships to deter Iranians speedboats, some of which had reached as close as half a mile away from the aircraft carrier.
Iran’s regularly Navy is separate from the naval forces of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.).