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Exclusive photo: Iran’s largest warship now in the Baltic Sea limited to Russia

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IRINS Makran crosses the Great Belt Strait in Denmark en route to the Baltic Sea on July 22, 2021. Photo by @shipoholic used with permission

Iran’s largest warship is now in the Baltic Sea, the first for the Iranian Navy, according to photos from ship observers provided to USNI News.

The ship-turned-warship IRINS Makran crossed the Great Belt early Thursday morning entering the Baltic Sea under the escort of Royal Danish Navy patrol boats.

Makran crossed the Great Belt Bridge just outside the entrance to the Baltic Sea at 6:53 a.m. local time 2:53 a.m. EDT, according to a tweet Thursday from TankerTrackers.com. The warship was being escorted by the HDMS patrol boat Diana (P250), according to AIS data from MarineTraffic.com.

Photos provided to USNI News by ship observer @shipoholic show that Makran still has the Fast Attack Craft attached to the deck as originally reported by USNI News in June.

The IRINS Sahand frigate entered the Baltic Sea earlier via another route, but has not yet been seen by ship observers. The Danish press reported that Iranian officials informed Copenhagen that the two ships would transit Danish waters en route to Russia.

The route crossed by two Iranian warships to enter the Baltic Sea. USNI News Graph by HI Sutton

It’s always exciting when we have past boats that are not everyday events. “I do not remember seeing Iranian warships in Danish waters,” Royal Danish Navy spokesman Per Hansen told the newspaper. Jyllands-Posten in Danish Of course we will sail them nicely and greet them when they pass by. The same goes for the Russian submarines we saw in Danish waters this summer. ”

The two ships are set to represent Iran at a naval parade in St. Petersburg celebrating the 325th anniversary of the Russian Navy, according to an July statement from the Kremlin.

U.S. officials initially thought the ships were headed for Venezuela as part of deepening relations between Tehran and Caracas. Makran and Sahand have walked slowly around Africa, staying off the coast of Senegal before crossing the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel before entering the Baltic Sea.

The move could be a sign of future broader operations, Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told USNI News on Thursday.

Undoubtedly, as Makran and Sahand returned to the English Channel, NATO countries became confused. It is not every day that Arts [Iranian] The Navy makes such a voyage, and it can be [a] harbinger of increased Iranian interest in improving its naval capabilities and testing range limits, he said.

Billed as a mobile expedition base that can act as a lily for small ships, helicopters and drones, Makran could also allow Iran to circumvent U.S. sanctions by transporting oil under the flag of a warship.

Some believed that Makran transited the Atlantic to sell the Maduro regime millions of gallons of refined fuel and offensive craft. Venezuela, also under US sanctions, has plenty of crude oil but lacks the refining ability to turn it into gas.

In 2020, four Iranian commercial gas ships bound for Venezuela were blocked by US authorities, and in 2019 the Grace 1 mega-tanker was captured on behalf of US authorities. Transferring the gas under the guise of a naval aide would legally prevent the ban by law enforcement and the Coast Guard, US law experts told USNI News.

Iranian oil is transported by tankers traveling around the world. Iran Art Navy has simply not made these types of trips in the past. Hence the concerns about Makran, a converted oil tanker and now Iran’s largest naval vessel, for the gradual improvement of Iran’s naval capabilities for military purposes, Taleblu told USNI News.

Iranian media have previously announced Makran’s storage capability, as well as its ability to house drones that could threaten enemy bases extending beyond Iran’s ballistic missile range.

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