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Iran deployed its 61st naval group in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.

| 2019

During the beginning of March 2019, Iran decided to dispatch its 61st naval group (consisting of the Sabalan frigate and the Bandar Abbas logistical support ship) to the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait (between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden), to counter the piracy and thus secure maritime oil shipping in the area.

Iran deployed its 61st naval group in the Bab el Mandeb Strait The Iranian Navy's Sabalan frigate (Picture source : US military)

"The naval group is on a mission to provide security for the routes used by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) in the area of the Gulf of Aden and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait," South Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Afshin Tashak said, speaking to Iranian media on March 17.

The Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and the adjacent Gulf of Aden linking the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal are part of a major global shipping route. Actually, about 5 million barrels of oil are shipped through the strait each day. This helps to determine how important it is, particularly for a country such as Iran which is an important oil exporter, to secure this path.

Therefore, Iran has deployed the Sabalan frigate, along with a Bandar Abbas vessel in this maritime area. The Sabalan frigate is equipped with a 114 mm main gun, along with anti-ship missiles, mortar, machine gun, torpedo tubes and anti-air defence weaponry. As for the Bandar Abbas, it is a lightly armed replenishment ship with an helicopter deck capable of carrying a lone light helicopter.

Also on March 17, the 60th flotilla, consisting of two logistical ships, which fended off a pirate attack on an oil tanker last week, safely returned home to the southern Iranian port of Bushehr after completing a 5,600 nautical-mile journey.

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