After a stopover in Brazil, two Iranian naval ships are reportedly sailing toward the strategic Panama Canal, as the Islamic Republic seeks to project power into the Americas.
An Iranian military presence in the strategic waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans would anger Washington, which has warned that it is closely monitoring Tehran’s activities in the Western Hemisphere.
The Iranian-made Mowj-class destroyer Dena and the logistics ship Makran have been navigating around the world since September 22, 2022, to “show the growing military and naval power of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, according to Iran’s official news agency IRNA.
Dena, which joined the Iranian naval fleet in 2021, weighs 1,300 tons and is said to be armed with anti-ship cruise missiles, naval cannons and torpedoes. With a weight of 121,000 tons, Makran, a converted oil tanker, is the largest ship in the Iranian navy.
Dena and Makran comprise the Iranian navy’s 86th flotilla, one of three naval divisions currently deployed by the Islamic Republic in international waters. The 88th flotilla is sailing in the Indian Ocean, while the 88th flotilla is in the Pacific Ocean.
The two vessels arrived in Brazil on January 23 and received the authorization by the local authorities to dock at Rio de Janeiro until January 30.