The naval forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps planned to build a permanent base in the Indian Ocean by the end of the year, Admiral Alireza Tangsiri told state-run Fars news agency.
He said the operation came at the request of military leadership and was intended to protect fishing and industrial shipping.
Adm Tangsiri said the IRGC navy regularly operates in the Indian Ocean and so building a permanent base there was not unusual.
"The deployment of the fleet by the IRGC navy to distant waters has been done in the past, and our second fleet was also sent to the waters of the Indian Ocean," he said. “[Building a permanent marine base will improve] security in the mouth of the Indian Ocean that will also be of great help to the growing presence of Iranian fishing and fishing development in the region,” he said.
The base would be tasked with preventing piracy and harassment of Iranian fishing vessels by foreign ships.
Adm Tangsiri did not say where it would be built and gave no other details of the project.
Iran invests heavily in its naval defences and operates large warships as well as flotillas of fast attack boats.
The US has accused Iranian boats of harassing its ships in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz, sailing at speed in close proximity to its vessels.
An incident in April led US President Donald Trump to order the US Navy to shoot any Iranian gunboats in such circumstances.
It led the navy in May to issue an alert that appeared to target Iran by warning mariners in the Gulf to stay 100 metres from US warships or risk being “interpreted as a threat and subject to lawful defensive measures”.
However, the US Navy said that this did not represent a change to the rules of engagement.
Iran has also used its navy to intercept commercial ships in the crucial international channel through the Gulf of Oman – the conduit for much of the world’s oil exports.
Last July, the Iranian Navy intercepted the Stena Impero as it travelled out to sea, impounding the vessel in what the British government said was a breach of international maritime law. That happened after British Royal Marines boarded and impounded a Panamanian flagged Iranian vessel off the coast of Gibraltar on suspicion of disregarding sanctions on Syria by transferring fuel.
It was released several weeks later, and the US provided images and information it claimed were proof the Grace 1 laid up off the Syrian coast and offloaded its cargo.