Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is adding to its naval power, according to Iranian reports. The images of the newly equipped fast boats as well as a new support ship were broadcast on Thursday morning. Reports say that the IRGC, which runs its own branch of Iran’s navy, will receive almost 100 new patrol boats and a large “ocean liner,” style support ship which was converted for naval needs.
This expands Iran’s ability to threaten countries in the Gulf and project power out to sea. Iran has two navies basically, one official navy and the IRGC navy. Iran has been trying to expand its relatively small naval power in recent years, even sending ships on long-distance voyages to Russia and South American waters.
Iran’s maritime capabilities
The reports about Iran’s new missile-capable and drone-launch capable missile boats go back to at least 2020 when Naval Post reported that Iran had received 112 missile-launching boats. Iran produced several classes of these boats, including the Ashura, Taregh and Zulifqar classes.
The Ashura is a small speed 6.7-meter-long boat with two outboard engines and can hold around a dozen men. It is driven with a center console. The Zulfiqar is larger at around 13 meters. The Taregh or Tariq is roughly the same size and these types have been used since the 1980s.
Last year reports said that Iran was carrying out work on the “Shahid Mahdavi ocean liner” which would give the IRGC the ability to carry out long-distance missions. This ship is supposed to be a floating base and is not actually an ocean liner, but rather the conversion of a cargo ship that Iran International says was originally called Sarvin. “They are looking beyond the Persian Gulf and into the blue waters of the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea and the northern Indian Ocean,” Farzin Nadimi, an associate fellow at the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy who studies the Iranian military, told AP, at the time. Baird Maritime also reported that this was a “containership being rebuilt into drone aircraft carrier” for Iran’s IRGC.
Mehr News in Iran reported this week that rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, the commander of the Navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) made comments in a ceremony in Bandar Abbas “held to mark the joining of Ashura and Tariq-class [boats] and the Shahid Mahdavi warship, which is equipped with offensive and defensive systems, to the IRGC Navy’s combat forces.”
The report said that the commander noted that the Ashura and Tariq-class vessels have been converted into boats with missiles with a range of 10 to 180 km. Iran is also rolling out the larger logistic vessel, perhaps one of at least two that will be built to carry helicopters and drones. He gave some specifics on the Mahdavi, noting that it was 2,100 tons, 240 meters long and 27 meters wide with a radar array and surface-to-surface, surface-to-air missiles, “highly advanced electronic warfare Khordad 3 integrated telecommunication [air defense] systems and has the capability of carrying helicopters, UAVs and operational vessels.”
The Iranian reports of the newly equipped ships come as Iran continues to send weapons to the Houthis in Yemen. The US and UK navies have interdicted some of these shipments. Iran has also carried out two attempted drone attacks on commercial ships in the last several months, part of a pattern of Iranian attacks on shipping in the region.
Source » jpost