Iran deploys fresh warships to Gulf of Aden

Iran Materials 6 July 2009 15:29 (UTC +04:00)

The Iranian Navy has deployed two warships to the Gulf of Aden to help preserve shipping security in the pirate-infested waters, Press TV reported.

Iran's Deputy Naval Commander, Gholam-Reza Khadem, said Monday that the dispatched warships are set to replace aging vessels and protect Iranian merchant containers and oil tankers from Somali pirates in the volatile Gulf of Aden.

The dispatch comes only a week after the Iranian navy saved one if its giant oil tankers from the grips of Somali pirates.

"Pirates have stepped up attacks on Iranian merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, so we have decided to send two more warships to patrol the area and help keep everything under control," said Khadem.

Khadem said Iran's decision to join the international fight against piracy in the key shipping-lanes off the coast of Somalia has been "rather positive".

The Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November when Somali raiders hijacked the Iranian-chartered cargo ship, Delight, off the coast of Yemen.

In an earlier move on August 21, some 40 pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades attacked Iran's Diyanat, shortly after the merchant ship passed the Horn of Africa.

The Gulf of Aden --which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea-- is an important energy corridor, particularly for Persian Gulf oil heading west through the Suez Canal

According to US Department of Energy estimates, the water way is the quickest transit point for ships laden with some 3.3 million barrels of crude -- almost 4% of daily global demand.

In a report published on Dec. 15, the Time reasoned that the West's age-old policy of marginalizing Somalia's endemic poverty is the main reason behind the sudden increase in piracy off Somalia's coast.