Skip to main content

Report: Iran sending warships toward U.S. maritime borders

By Barbara Starr and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
updated 5:58 AM EST, Mon February 10, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iran's move is meant as a message, a senior Iranian naval official says
  • There is no operational info to support the claim, a U.S. military official says
  • "We have an announcement, not a deployment," a U.S. defense official says
  • In 2011, Iran twice announced plans to send ships toward the U.S. maritime borders

Washington (CNN) -- A senior Iranian naval official said Iran is sending warships toward U.S. maritime borders to send a message -- a move a U.S. defense official characterized as an announcement, not a deployment.

"Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message," Adm. Afshin Rezayee Haddad said, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported Saturday.

The plan, according to Fars, is a response to the United States beefing up its naval presence in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain.

Haddad said the Iranian fleet was approaching the Atlantic Ocean "via the waters near South Africa," a claim that has not been confirmed.

A U.S. military official told CNN there was no operational information to support the claim.

"They do send some ships from time to time to the Gulf of Aden for unilateral counter piracy operations. In theory, a couple of ships could go there and then off south down towards the cape," the official said.

"Announcement not deployment"

It's not the first time Iran has made such a threat, a U.S. defense official said.

"It's important to understand that, at this point, we have an announcement not a deployment. They've stated this aspiration before," said the defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

In 2011, Iran twice announced plans to send ships toward the U.S. maritime borders.

"Freedom of the seas doesn't just apply to fish. It applies to all maritime nations, all navies, everywhere -- so long as they understand the responsibilities which come with that freedom," the defense official said.

"So if they chose to send their ships to the Atlantic, I'm sure they won't be surprised to find many, many others already there."

The Iranian navy is the smallest of its military forces, according to GlobalSecurity.org, which tracks defense and intelligence issues.

Barbara Starr reported from Washington; Chelsea J. Carter wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Sara Mazloumsaki contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:04 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
Obama's remarks that he didn't yet have a strategy for ISIS in Syria is widely criticized.
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
updated 3:46 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Beijing says only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive, prompting criticism that it stifles democracy.
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
updated 12:52 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park.
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 8:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about trying to get a hostage home alive.
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
South Africa Music Legends stamps
Artist Hendrik Gericke puts a spotlight on iconic performers from South Africa in these incredible monochrome illustrations.
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT