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 10:35 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Inspirational, creepy or just weird? CNN meets the 51-year-old man who dresses like a schoolgirl.
updated 7:00 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material.
updated 7:12 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Yoga, meditation and watching a snake eat a frog alive: these are some of the experiences to be had at this Himalayan yoga retreat.
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.
updated 7:52 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
The world's largest flying aquatic insect, with huge, nightmarish pincers, has been discovered in China's Sichuan province, experts say.
ADVERTISEMENT