Iran increasing its military presence in the Caspian Sea
Iranian Admiral Seid Mahmud Musavi stated recently that Iran has launched super-modern military vessel in the Caspian Sea. He said that the Iranian fleet has high combat ability in both the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf.
Iran"s sea borders from Astara to Turkmenbashi are very well protected, according to the Admiral. However the fact that the status of the Caspian Sea has not yet been determined has created serious competition in the area.
There are currently two fully equipped military bases on the Caspian coast, in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Astrakhan, Russia. Iran has up to 90 vessels in the Caspian, including some carrying Chinese-made missiles with a range of 120 km. These ships were included in the Caspian Navy deployment in 2003-2006. Iran also has the capability to increase its military potential 1.5 times in short order by ending cutters from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea. It intends to deploy several helicopter ships in the Caspian too.
The strongest and biggest Navy in the Caspian belongs to Russia. It contains several aviation and coast guard brigades and special squads are deployed in Makhachkala. Turkmenistan's naval base at Turkmenbashi consists of 10 patrol boats. USA and Turkey are also helping Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan increase their military potential in the area.
Kazakhstan's major naval base is the port of Aktau and since 2004 Kazakhstan has bought several patrol boats equipped with missiles from Ukraine. It also plans to buy several boats and helicopters from the USA, Turkey and Russia. Its Navy will be increased to 5,000 servicemen. The Azeri Navy has patrol boats, rescue boats and so on, plus a service battalion and special squad. It also has small submarines. The Azeri fleet personnel were trained in Turkey and the USA.
Over the next six years the Pentagon is planning to invest USD 130 million in a project called Caspian Guard. Washington suggests that Caspian Guard-trained servicemen should be used to protect BTC and other pipelines and the oil fields. Caspian Guard should also facilitate better patrolling of the Caspian Sea and help protect borders, combat terrorism and counter the trafficking of drugs and arms in the region.