The Indian Navy has deployed warships and aircraft to the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf to undertake maritime security operations amid rising tensions between the US and Iran.
The announcement came from the Indian Navy on a day when Iranian paramilitary forces claimed that a US spy drone had been shot down after entering Iran’s airspace.
“Ships Chennai and Sunayna have been deployed in the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf to undertake Maritime Security operations. In addition, aerial surveillance by IN (Indian) aircraft is also being undertaken in the area,” the Indian Navy said on Thursday.
The Indian Navy’s Chennai vessel, a P-15A guided-missile destroyer which was involved in last month’s first successful “co-operative engagement firing” trials using the Medium-range Surface-to-Air-Missile (MRSAM) version of the Barak-8 missile system, is part of the vessels deployed.
The ship, measuring 163m in length, 17.4m in breadth with a displacement of 7,500 tonnes, is regarded as one of the most potent warships to have been constructed in India.
Last week, the “Front Altair” oil tanker, owned by Norwegian company Frontline, and the chemical tanker “Kokuka Courageous”, owned by Japanese company Kokuka Sangyo, were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz.
The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow stretch of water between the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, and one of the most important passageways for world oil supplies.
The US has blamed the attack on Iran and claimed that it has found substantial evidence from the attack site. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of coordinating a campaign to falsely pin the blame on Iran.
Tensions between Iran and the US have been high since Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, last year. Since then, the Trump administration has imposed economic sanctions against the country, threatening to reduce Iranian crude oil exports “to zero.”
Last month, Washington also ordered the deployment of an additional 1,500 troops, a regiment of B-52 bombers and one of its aircraft carrier strike groups to the region.