• In November two Iranian warships had docked in Jakarta before heading to the Pacific
  • During the transit in the Pacific, the Iranian warships were monitored by Australia, New Zealand and France
  • Iran's navy commander has said Australia and France posed a threat to Iranian vessels during their transit

In an apparent warning to the U.S., Tehran is reportedly making plans to dispatch an Iranian naval fleet to the Panama Canal, an effort that is aimed at demonstrating the Islamic republic's growing military power and maritime reach.

"The Iranian Navy units are getting closer to the coasts of the Americas," Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, Commander of the Iranian Navy, said on Wednesday at a conference on maritime civilization held in Tehran, according to a report by local, Tasnim News Agency.

The navy commander said that Iranian naval forces had already been deployed to all the strategic straits across the world except two.

"The Iranian Navy forces will sail into one of those two remaining straits this year while plans are being made for the presence of the Iranian naval forces in the Panama Canal," he added.

The Iranian Navy has established three ocean commands to supervise missions to the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean, Irani elaborated, further pointing out that "the equipment that will join the Navy in the future is in line with the missions of these three commands."

"The Navy forces of the country are prepared to confront any external threat powerfully," Irani said, adding, "If enemies threaten the security of the country, Iranian Navy forces will respond to their malicious acts harshly," Rear Admiral Irani warned, according to a report in state-run Fars News Agency.

"Our interests and resources in the sea are very vast, and wherever we feel threatened, our fleet is present. Due to the authority and presence of the Iranian navy in the seas and oceans and continuous monitoring, no country has dared approach the country's territorial waters," the commander said.

Speaking about the Iranian navy's mission to sail across the Pacific Ocean, the navy commander said Australia and France posed a threat to Iranian vessels. Despite the threats, the Iranian navy stood its ground and responded to them in accordance with the law, he said.

On Jan. 2, the Australian Department of Defense reported that it had tracked the transit of two Iranian warships passing through the South Pacific in November.

The two Iranian warships, which included a frigate and a converted oil tanker, docked in Jakarta before heading to the Pacific with media reports, adding that the vessels did not enter Australia's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The New Zealand Defense Force also reported that it had monitored the movement of the Iranian warships in the Pacific.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 25, France's Pacific Command revealed it had made contact with the Iranian vessels after the vessels declared their intention to pass just below the remote Marquesas Islands.

In a meeting with Iran's naval commanders in Nov. 2022, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei stressed the need for the country's navy to strengthen its combat capability and maintain its presence in international waters.

Iran navy
File Image of Iran's navy conducting drill in the Sea of Oman. Above, a Nour missile is test-fired off Iran's first domestically made destroyer, Jamaran, on the southern shores of Iran in the Persian Gulf. Reuters/Ebrahim Noroozi