‚ÄúThe 24th fleet of the Army docked in China‚Äôs port and conducted training exercises and is leaving Zhangjiagang port today,‚Äù Sayyari said on Thursday.
‚ÄúThis fleet is still present in the Pacific Ocean but will head for the Strait of Malacca and soon will dock at the Port of Colombo [in Sri Lanka],‚Äù he said.
The Iranian Navy‚Äôs 24th fleet of warships, comprising Sabalan destroyer and Kharg helicopter carrier, docked in China’s Zhangjiagang port on Monday after sailing 13,000 kilometers in 40 days.
Kharg helicopter carrier is 207 meters long and the largest of its kind in West Asia. The carrier operates as a backup aircraft transport for the Iranian Navy‚Äôs destroyers in international waters.
The Iranian commander went on to say that ‚Äúpresence in the Pacific Ocean is a prelude to [Iran‚Äôs] presence in the Atlantic Ocean‚Äù, adding that a constant and extensive presence of Iran in international waters will be on top of the Navy‚Äôs agenda.
In recent years, Iran’s Navy has been increasing its presence in international waters to protect naval routes and provide security for Iranian merchant vessels and tankers.
In addition, in line with the international efforts to combat piracy, the Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 to safeguard the vessels involved in maritime trade, especially the ships and oil tankers owned or leased by Iran.