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Iranian warship sent to Somalia has disappeared.

It is beginning to look as if Iran may never have sent a warship to the Gulf of Aden to protect Iranian merchant shipping from pirates, as it claimed.

The Islamic Republic announced in December that it had dispatched a warship to the waters off Somalia. Officials said the ship would guard Iranian shipping headed through the Gulf of Aden to and from the Suez Canal, but would not join with the growing number of foreign navies operating in the region to protect shipping from Somali pirates.

But last week, it was a Russian warship that saved an Iranian merchant vessel that was under attack by pirates. No Iranian Navy ship was reported in the area.

The Iran Times contacted both the U.S. Fifth Fleet in the region and the British SO1 Fleet, which coordinates European naval operations against piracy. Two months after Iran said an Iranian warship was in the Gulf of Aden, Commander Alistair Worsley of the Royal Navy said, "We have had no contact with any Iranian warship." And Lt. Stephanie Murdock of the U.S. Navy said, "We have not had any contact with any Iranian Navy ships in the Gulf of Aden.... While Iran is not part of the coalition, we would be happy to work with them."

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Furthermore, the Iranian Navy has said nothing about operations in the Gulf of Aden since announcing it had sent a ship there in December.

On Saturday, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the Iranian Navy, gave an interview to the Fars news agency in which he spoke extensively about how Iran had now started to send warships far from its shores to demonstrate that it is a world power.

He spoke specifically about the recent return of one warship that went on a 30-day trip in the Indian Ocean from Bandar Abbas, passed Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka and back. That is the opposite direction from the Gulf of Aden. Sayyari said nothing about any ship having gone to the Gulf of Aden.
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Author:Nelson, Warren L.
Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Feb 27, 2009
Words:339
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