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Iran Launches New Navy Ship as Tensions Rise with U.S. in Gulf | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard stand in front of a newly inaugurated high-speed catamaran, in the port city of Bushehr, northern Persian Gulf, Iran, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. (AP)

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard launched a new naval ship in the port city of Bushehr, Iran, on Tuesday. The 55-metre-long naval ship is capable of transporting a helicopter and about 100 men, according to the website of state TV.

U.S. officials say there have been more than 30 close encounters between U.S. and Iranian vessels in the Gulf only this year, and thus the ship’s launch comes at a time of high tension between Iran and the U.S. over Gulf waters.

On Sept. 4, a U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship changed course after an Iranian Revolutionary Guard fast-attack craft came within 91 meters of it in the central Gulf, marking the fourth similar incident in less than a month.

“This ship increases the deterrent power of Iran and will have an effect on the calculations of the enemy, particularly America,” Revolutionary Guard naval chief Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said at the launch, according to the state TV site.

The ship was built in Bushehr by Khatam al-Anbia, a huge construction and engineering firm overseen by the Guards, and Fadavi did not state if the ship had any weapons capabilities over it, however a photo posted on the state TV site showed a helicopter set on the top deck of the ship.

A banner posted on the side of the ship at the launch read, “America should go to the Bay of Pigs, the Persian Gulf is our house”, a reference to the botched U.S. attempt to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 1961.