Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Iranian warships off America’s shore?

Image Credit: shutterstock

Image Credit: shutterstock

The announcement that Iranian warships are heading into the Atlantic and may sit off America’s coast is the stuff of headlines, but don’t say that Iranians haven’t long telegraphed their intention. I have been writing on Iranian naval statements and policy for the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth for several years. Here’s a brief timeline:

Three years ago, the Iranian Navy transited the Suez Canal for the first time since Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Shortly thereafter, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared the Iranian navy the new vanguard of Iranian power projection. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Navy commander Ali Fadavi picked up the theme. “The military power of the United States is maritime,” he explained. “Naturally, the main battlefield is the sea…and the Revolutionary Guards Navy will be the center of resisting and defending and safeguarding the Islamic Revolution.”

Just a year ago, Iranian authorities dispatched their fleet into the Pacific, the first time that happened since the 10th century. The Iranian Navy has also been striking partnerships with African countries, enabling the logistics to expand Iranian outreach. As for the goal of heading into the Atlantic? Halfway down this essay is a prediction from last April. The prediction wasn’t so farfetched, however, given that in 2011, the Iranian Naval Commander declared it his intention to deploy ships into the Atlantic. How fortunate it has been for the Iranian leadership that even as they have telegraphed their intentions, the White House was asleep at the switch.

17 thoughts on “Iranian warships off America’s shore?

  1. This is very troubling. While the regime announces its ‘intentions’ to do things, it usually harbors a different agenda. In this case, I think they might be doing this to see if their favorite Islamists groups in western Africa could be supplied through the sea as transporting arms via air is costly and detectable. I don’t think the Iranian regime has really any intentions to come close to the US shores using ships that have no air cover or air defense. I’ll not be surprised if they anchor off Nigeria or the Gambia or other W. African places where the Islamists are causing trouble.

  2. Our warships sail everywhere…can we take umbrage at others doing the same? Iran is hardly a threat, certainly in comparison to the old USSR…

      • The Iranian regime’s aggressive behavior since 1979 should speak for itself. They have declared open war on us. While we can do little legally, we can certainly arrange for a welcome for them offshore as surface ships, submarines and aircraft keep a close track of their two or three ships and send a message that our military, at least, will not sleep on watch (while the administration continues to doze). A few low fly bys, gunnery practice and torpedo exercises should emphasize the U.S. Navy’s worldwide, deep water experience. Let’s leave a memorable impression.

        • Frankly, I don’t want to waste any more taxpayer dollars on a few stupid Iranian ships in the Atlantic. And a huge reaction would be great for the Iranian Navy, probably make them heroes back home.

          Does the USA always have to react hysterically to every perceived slight and threat? We get twitted by Iran and we have lose our bowels?

          How about this: Do these three vessels present a threat to American prosperity?


          Ignore ‘em.

      • There is nothing the administration can do, other than monitor the vessels while they operate in international waters. It wouldn’t take much more than a couple of fighers from an East Coast national guard base to dispatch those Iranian ships. And every serious person on earth knows that. The point of the article is to raise awareness of the Iranian’s belligerent policies toward the US and take those policies into account in the broader scheme of things, especially the lifting of sanctions over the nuclear non-deal between Obama and the mullahs.

  3. Iran’s navy, why not? With Barack Obama in office and already wimping, if not coddling Iran this fits right in.
    I wonder if they’ll sail up the Hudson?

  4. This appears to be done for purely propaganda purposes. They want to claim to their own people that they are challenging The Great Satan in his own backyard, so they dispatch two old ships into the Western Atlantic. If anything else, the admirals may hope the US attacks their little Atlantic fleet, giving them casus belli to attack the US Fifth Fleet with their Chinese surface to surface missiles.

  5. Everyone dismissed the challenge from Japan, too, in 1941; “experts” proclaimed that no battleship had ever been sunk from the air, and that since Japanese products lacked quality, their military products must also be cheap and worthless.

    Never underestimate your enemy.

  6. Many of the commenters seem to miss the point: Iran is doing this at a time when, supposedly thanks to the healing leadership of Barack Obama, we are told that our relations are thawing. Iran would only take these steps if it felt emboldened to do so by fecklessness in the White House. This is a perfect illustration of why weakness in the face of tyranny makes war more, not less, likely.

    • Why don’t we arrange to have a few cruise ships pass the Iranian ships and everyone wave. The military could pay the tab for the cruise ships to turn and pass them again with more waves from the guests. Just a thought.

      • Now _there_ is an appropriate response. Fill the ships with young, scantily-clad women. Maybe we can get the sailors to defect en masse. :)

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