Ship extends Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s reach into new waters

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard is building a large new support ship near the Strait of Hormuz in an attempt to expand its role in a critical mass of international energy supplies, according to satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press. Press conferences for naval presence in vital waters and beyond.

The construction of Shahid Mahdavi provided the guard with a large floating base from which to run Small speedboats that primarily make up its fleet, designed to counter the U.S. Navy and other Allied forces in the region.

However, its arrival comes after a series of setbacks for the Guard and Iran’s regular navy, including The loss of its largest warship less than a year agoRisks also remain for further confrontation at sea between Tehran and the West, as Iran’s nuclear deal talks with world powers also failed.

“They looked beyond the Persian Gulf and into the azure waters of the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the northern Indian Ocean,” said Fazin Nadimi, an associate research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who studies the Iranian military.

The Shahid Mahdavi appears to be a modification of an Iranian cargo ship called Sarvin, which also has a similar hull curve based on previous photos of the ship.

The Sarvin arrived in Bandar Bandar in late July last year and then switched off its trackers. By Jan. 29, satellite photos of Planet Labs PBC analyzed by The Associated Press showed the ship in the dry dock of Shahid Darvishi Marine Industries, an Iranian Defense Ministry affiliate, west of Bandar Bandar Abbas.

Images of Shahid Mahdavi first circulated on social media. According to warship expert HI Sutton, the ship appears to have anti-aircraft weapons on the bow and stern. First make sure the ship is near Bandar Abbas. The flag of the Revolutionary Guard hangs on the bridge, with an assault rifle in the fist, the Quran below and a globe behind.

A high-resolution planetary image of the drydock taken on Saturday on behalf of the Associated Press showed Shahid Mahdavi, in gunmetal gray, still at the shipyard. Right next to it, one of Iran’s Kilo-class diesel-powered attack submarines appears to be undergoing an overhaul. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Iran is believed to have one operational Kilo-class submarine while the other is also inoperable.

As images of Shahid Mahdavi circulated online, the semi-official Fars news agency reported the ship’s story. Fars, believed to be close to the Guard, described the ship as a “mobile naval city” capable of “ensuring the security of Iran’s trade lines and the rights of Iranian sailors and fishermen on the high seas”.

“This series of new defensive and operational innovations for the construction of heavy ships, in line with the large-scale development of light ships and equipping them with various arrays, can always maintain Iranian authority over the Persian Gulf and Oman (Gulf) in the face of trans-regional enemy,” Fars said.

Such floating bases have been used in the region before, notably by the U.S. Navy in The so-called “Tanker Wars” of the 1980s after Iraq’s invasion of IranIn that war, as Iranian mines detonated crude oil carriers, the Navy began escorting ships out of the Persian Gulf through its narrow port, the Strait of Hormuz. Today, one-fifth of the strait’s oil transactions pass through the strait.

During the conflict, U.S. special forces operate from commercial barges that serve as forward operating bases. The Navy is still using the idea today — the Middle East-based Fifth Fleet is home to the USS Lewis B. Puller, a large tanker-designed vessel to accommodate troops and attack helicopters.

“The Shaheed Mahdavi looks set to be configured as a forward staging base at sea, to use U.S. Navy terminology,” said Michael Cornell, an Iran specialist at the Virginia-based Center for Naval Analysis. “Puller parked in the Persian Gulf. Over the years, the Iranian military has seen its utility as an expeditionary warfare and power projection platform.”

For years, the Guard has patrolled the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, while Iran’s conventional navy has patrolled further afield. Building the Shahid Mahdavi could give the Guard the ability to expand its presence into waters once patrolled by the navy.

Nor is history something that escapes Iran. The Guard’s newest ship, Shahid Mahdavi, or Martyr Mahdavi, is named after Nader Mahdavi, an Iranian guard killed by the US Navy in 1987 during the “Tanker War”.

The U.S. killing of Mahdavi, which came after his troops opened fire on U.S. special forces helicopters, still resonates in Iran today. Tehran claims that the United States captured him alive without evidence and tortured him because of his physical condition upon his return. U.S. helicopters fired machine guns, rockets and “fléchette” rounds — small metal darts — on Iranian ships overseen by Mahdavi.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself gave a speech in 2019 and a portrait of Mahdavi was placed near him.that’s about U.S. Navy blames Iran for a series of mine attacks on Middle Eastern shipping It comes as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers collapses.

The use of Mahdavi’s name suggests the Guard sees it as a means of challenging the U.S. Navy in the Middle East, especially as the new ship may be able to support so-called “swarm attacks” that Iran can launch against larger U.S. warships.

commander. Fifth Fleet spokesman Timothy Hawkins declined to comment on Shahid Mahdavi because “we are careful not to discuss intelligence-related issues.”

“But in general, for the sake of regional security and stability, we closely monitor the marine environment with our international partners,” Hawkins said.

The arrival of the Shahid Mahdavi, which will be the largest ship in the Guard’s fleet, comes amid a series of shipwrecks in Iran. The conventional navy’s largest warship, Kharg, sank last June. In 2020, A missile misses a navy ship during exercise, 19 crew members were killed and 15 injured. In 2018, an Iranian Navy destroyer sank in the Caspian Sea.

Simultaneously, A Red Sea cargo ship believed to be a Guards intelligence base was bombed last year suspected of being caused by IsraelNadimi, an analyst at the Washington Institute, said Shahid Mahdavi could play a similar role in special forces espionage and sabotage missions. It may also be equipped with long-range missiles.

“Nasty things can happen around this ship,” Nadimi warned.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.



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