0518 GMT February 21, 2019
In a ceremony carried live on national television, the Sahand destroyer — which can sustain voyages lasting five months without resupply — joined Iran’s regular navy at a base in Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf.
The Sahand, a 1,300-ton vessel named after a mountain in northern Iran, took six years to build. TV showed a ceremony marking the inauguration with a three-gun salute at the mouth of the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea.
The vessel has a flight deck for helicopters which is 96 meters (105 yards) long, torpedo launchers, anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles and electronic warfare capabilities. It can cruise at 25 knots.
“This vessel is the result of daring and creative design relying on the local technical knowledge of the Iranian Navy... and has been built with stealth capabilities,” Rear Admiral Alireza Sheikhi, the head of the navy shipyards that built the destroyer, told IRNA.
Iran launched its first locally made destroyer in 2010 as part of a program to revamp its navy equipment which dates from before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and is mostly US-made.
Iran has developed a large domestic arms industry in the face of international sanctions and embargoes that have barred it from importing many weapons. It has produced its own jet fighters, tanks, missiles and light submarines as well as torpedoes.
On Saturday, Iran's Army Chief Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi said the Navy depended on foreign support before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but the force's advancements after the revolution are a source of national pride.
The advancements, the general said, have enabled Iran to guarantee security in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Sea of Oman.
Separately, a naval commander said Sahand may be among warships that Iran plans to send on a mission to Venezuela soon.
“Among our plans in the near future is to send two or three vessels with special helicopters to Venezuela in South America on a mission that could last five months,” Rear Admiral Touraj Hassani Moqaddam, Iran’s deputy navy commander, told Mehr.
On Thursday, Iran's navy announced the acquisition of two mini-submarines designed for operation in shallow waters such as the Persian Gulf, including one new sub and an overhauled one.
Military officials said the subs have sonar-evading technology and can launch missiles from under water, as well as fire torpedoes and drop marine mines.
Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said last week the country should increase its military capability and readiness to ward off enemies, in a meeting with Iranian navy commanders.
Iran’s navy has extended its reach in recent years, launching vessels in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden to protect Iranian ships from Somali pirates operating in the area.
Reuters, AP and Press TV contributed to this story.