Iranian Warships Headed to US Atlantic Coast

2 Iranian Ships

By Debbie Gregory.

Several weeks ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) deployed two ships that, according to multiple reports,  have rounded South Africa and are headed for somewhere off of the Atlantic coast of the United States. It is believed that the two ships are the Islamic Republic of Iran Ship (IRIS) Sabalan and the IRIS Kharg, however there is no confirmation.
The IRIS Sabalan (73)is an Alvand-class frigate. The 37 year old ship carries a compliment of 125-145 sailors and officers, and is armed with C-802 missiles, a 4.5 inch Mark 8 gun, torpedo tubes, 81, mm mortars, 2 .50 cal guns, a twin mm gun and two 20 mm guns.
The IRIS Kharg (AOR 431) is an OI-class Tanker, designed to carry fuel and supplies. The logistic ship carries a compliment of 250 sailors and officers. The Kharg can also carry up to 3 helicopters.It is also believed that 30 Iranian midshipmen are also a part of the voyage, in addition to the ships’ crews.  
The mission of this Iranian fleet-ita is ambiguous. IRIN Rear Admiral Seyyed Mahmoud Moussavi told Iranian television that the ships are on a 3 month mission to send a message of peace and friendship to other nations of the world, as well as display Iran’s defensive capabilities.
But the general belief is that Iran is trying to show the world that the U.S. Navy is not the only naval power that can cruise international waters and edge territorial boundaries. The Iranian government and IRIN have taken offense to the increased presence of U.S. Navy warships in the Arabian Gulf since the Global War on Terrorism began. There have been a series of standoffs and tense moments between the two navies, including the January,  2012 “warning” issued by Iran not to send any more aircraft carriers to the “Persian” Gulf. The U.S. has continued to send ships, including aircraft carriers, to the Arabian Gulf.
Iran, like any country, is permitted to steam freely in international waters near the U.S. and around the world. The whole purpose of having a navy is to protect a country’s sovereignty, citizens and economic interests at sea. In recent years, IRIN has taken to frequently deploying ships to the Gulf of Aden to protect Iran’s maritime commerce from Somali pirates.
But Iran should know that bringing a warship within the territorial waters of the U.S. would be the equivalent of driving a tank across our border and into our country.