Iran was planning to hold a “massive” naval drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz Wednesday, the first such exercise since an incident involving 10 US sailors who were briefly captured by Iran when they drifted into Iranian territorial waters earlier this month.
The official IRNA news agency said the drill will encompass an area from the eastern part of the Strait of Hormuz, through which one fifth of the world oil supply passes, to the Sea of Oman and also stretch into the Indian Ocean.
The agency quoted Iranian navy chief, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, as saying that “many types of missiles and torpedoes will be launched during the maneuver.”
He added that submarines, destroyers and missile launchers would be used during the exercise.
“The maneuver has been underway since January 21 and the forces have been deployed to their positions,” Sayyari was quoted by state-run Press TV as saying. “In this war game, we will exercise how to maintain security in the northern part of the Indian Ocean.”
Sayyari did not elaborate on the length of the drill, code-named Velayat 94.
The exercise was described as “massive” by the Iranian Tasnim news agency.
Sayarri ordered foreign forces in the Strait to leave the area for the exercise, Tasnim reported.
There was no immediate reaction to the drill from US or other Western officials.
Past drills in the Strait of Hormuz have drawn international concern given Iranian threats to blockade the naval lane, considered key to world oil supply
Iran’s navy has also recently drawn scrutiny over actions threatening Western forces stationed in the Persian Gulf, amid thawing ties in the wake of the landmark nuclear agreement with world powers.
On December 26, the Iranian navy test fired several rockets near three Western warships including the USS Harry S Truman aircraft carrier, a US military official said.
Though the rockets were not fired toward any ship, their proximity to the warships — and several commercial vessels — sparked concern.
“We look at this firing so close to the ships as highly provocative,” said the military official, who was not immediately authorized to be named.
The official confirmed details of an NBC News report that said one rocket was fired from within about 1,500 yards of the USS Truman as it transited the Strait of Hormuz.
A French frigate and the USS Bulkeley destroyer were also in the area. None of the Western vessels took evasive action.
Three weeks later, 10 American sailors were detained by Iranian forces after they said they accidentally drifted into Iran’s territorial waters.
They were released a day later following a diplomatic scramble between Washington and Tehran.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.