0225 GMT November 29, 2021
Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, in an address to a gathering of Basij students at the former U.S. Embassy compound in Tehran on Saturday, was apparently referring to the period since the U.S. assassination of Iran's legendary anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, Press TV reported.
On January 3, the United States assassinated Lieutenant General Soleimani along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, and several other companions outside Baghdad airport.
The Iranian youth, Rear Admiral Tangsiri said, should know “the importance of the Persian Gulf and the fact that our country is of great geographical significance”.
“This importance has led us to slap the Americans six times in one and a half years of confrontation, many of which have not been covered by the media,” he noted.
The commander cited the IRGC Navy's intervention last month to prevent U.S. forces from stealing an Iranian oil cargo in the Sea of Oman in a dramatic operation which involved Iranian forces rappelling to the ship's deck, calling it the latest slap.
“The tanker was carrying Iranian oil, but with the support of the Americans, it was refusing to deliver its cargo to our country. Of course, this was the second ship we confiscated and the previous one was not reported.”
He recounted, “In order to stop it, the first group of our forces landed on the deck of the oil tanker in a heliborne operation and the second group entered the ship after traveling by vessels. However, as soon as the tanker headed to our waters, two American destroyers quickly approached from both sides to prevent its transfer to our waters.”
Six Iranian speed boats and two vessels were then dispatched to the scene, warning away a U.S. helicopter which fired chaff as it fled, thinking it might be targeted by Iranian missiles, Rear Admiral Tangsiri said.
“Of course, we also had missiles as well as combat and reconnaissance drones in the area, but we only deployed our gunboats to confront the U.S. destroyers because we wanted to humiliate them,” he added.
The commander said the Americans refrain from entering Iran's territorial waters lest it could lead to a confrontation with IRGC Naval Forces.
He touched on the history of direct confrontations between U.S. and Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf, most importantly during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war under the former dictator Saddam Hussein.
“In the eight years of the Sacred Defense, when Iraq became helpless in the face of Iran, the Americans entered into a direct conflict with Iran in the Persian Gulf in 1987 to support Saddam’s army,” Admiral Tangsiri said.
“We in the IRGC Navy have sacrificed nine martyrs in direct battles with the Americans to defend the territory of our beloved country in the Persian Gulf. Of course, some of the confrontations have not been covered by the media for some reason,” he said.
“For the nine martyrs sacrificed in direct battles with the Americans, we were able to give them nine memorable slaps, and today, they have realized the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic in the maritime domain."
Three new warships
Rear Admiral Tangsiri further said the IRGC Navy will be equipped with three new warships during the current Iranian calendar year, to end on March 20, including a homegrown vessel launching missiles with a range of 300 kilometers.
He added the IRGC and the Defense Ministry are developing two advanced warships named after two martyrs, General Mohammad Nazeri and Lieutenant General Soleimani, noting that one of the vessels is 55 meters long and the other has a length of 65 meters.
Another military vessel to be provided to the IRGC is being constructed by an Iranian technology-based company, the commander noted, saying it is furnished with sea-to-air missiles with a range of 300 kilometers, can carry helicopters and reaches a velocity of 35 knots.
Last week, IRGC Commander Major General Hossein Salami said his forces have obtained modern naval technologies, adding the forces have managed to enhance the quality of combat vessels.
“The (military) vessels that constitute the real nature of our tactic have strategic messages in the sea,” he noted, describing as unstoppable the process of enhancement of the IRGC’s capabilities.