TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iranian and Russian naval forces on Wednesday drilled anti-piracy operations, during which they rescued two hijacked merchant vessels, on the second day of their joint naval maneuvers in the Sea of Oman and the northern part of the Indian Ocean.
According to the maneuvers’ spokesman Rear Admiral Gholamreza Tahani, the commercial ships sent distress signals to the Chabahar port’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC), before a Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King helicopter of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy flew over the area and surveyed it.
Tahani said Iran’s fully-indigenous Jamaran destroyer was then deployed to the area, and the participating warships were assigned with the liberation operation in two groups of Iranian and Russian units.
He said commandos with the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) as well as their Russian counterparts rappelled down onto the deck of the hijacked ship, captured pirates and liberated the vessel as outlined in the scenario.
The scenarios included capture of pirates, extinguishing the fire caused by the pirates to delay the rescue operation, treatment of wounded and injured sailors on board, and finally the successful berthing of the merchant vessel with the help of a tugboat.
The two-day Maritime Security Belt naval drills cover a 17,000-kilometer-wide maritime expanse. They enlist naval units from Iran’s Navy and the IRGC Navy together with their backup squadrons as well as a Russian flotilla comprising the Stoiky corvette, the KoLa refueling ship, and a support helicopter gunship.
On the first day, Iranian and Russian naval forces put their firepower on display. They unleashed fire on designated targets and practiced squaring up in offensive formations in light of regional threats.
The Indian navy also joined the drill while China is also expected to soon take part.
Iran’s Navy Chief Rear Admiral Hussein Khanzadi hailed India as one of the powerful naval forces in the region. He said China, which took part in a joint naval exercise with Iran and Russia in December 2019, will join the maneuvers after Chinese New Year’s celebrations.
He said the objective of the exercise is to "ensure collective security in the region and in the northern Indian Ocean.”
Tahani said the flexibility of the maneuvers makes it easy for regional countries to join the drill.
Iran’s Army and the IRGC have conducted a series of drills, involving ballistic missiles, drones and submarines in recent weeks amid heightened tensions in the region.