China, Iran, Russia conduct naval drills in Gulf of Oman

The Cradle, March 12, 2024 —

Russia’s defense ministry said that the main focus of these exercises is to protect ‘maritime economic activities’.

China, Iran, and Russia have begun joint drills in the Gulf of Oman on 12 March, marking their fifth joint military exercise in recent years. 

Russia’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement that the drills will run until Friday and that their primary purpose is “to practice safety in maritime economic activities.”

“The exercise involves more than 20 ships, support ships, and warships of the Russian Navy, the Iranian Navy, and the PLA Navy. Naval aviation helicopters are also widely used,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said. 

The ministry also noted that during the drills, “the combat ships of the three countries will jointly maneuver and conduct firing at surface and air targets, as well as hone elements to liberate the ship hijacked by the pirates.”

Dubbed Maritime Security Belt 2024, the joint naval drill will additionally host observers from the naval delegations of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, and South Africa.

China’s Ministry of Defense said the exercises are aimed at “jointly maintaining regional maritime security.”

The ministry added in a statement that “China will send … guided-missile destroyer Urumqi, guided-missile frigate Linyi, and comprehensive supply ship Dongpinghu to participate in the exercise.”

The exercises begin at the northern tip of the Indian Ocean. While speaking about its significance, Iran’s Rear Admiral Mustafa Taj al-Dini said on Monday that “The northern Indian Ocean is located between three of the five strategic straits in the world: the Strait of Hormuz in the north, the Strait of Malacca in the east, and the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb in the west of the Indian Ocean region, which is actually an energy oval. It surrounds the world, and due to the traffic of commercial vessels and oil tankers in this sensitive area, the necessity of establishing maritime trade security is doubled.”

Iran is set to send several ships and flight vessels, including the destroyers Jamaran, Dana, and Binder, and the ships Ganaveh, Zareh, and Sirjan. Others from the IRGC Navy Guardsmen include the ships Shahid Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Shahid Mahmoudi, and Thunder.

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