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Iran Builds For Something Big?
by James Dunnigan
June 19, 2011

Iran is increasingly building its own warships. They are starting small, with patrol boats and small warships, as well as amphibious boats and ships. This last type of ship makes Iran's Arab neighbors, just across the Persian Gulf, very nervous. For example, Iran recently announced that it had bought ten amphibious ships and tugs from Iranian shipyards. The landing craft can land troops and vehicles on a beach. The 1,000 ton, self-propelled barges can carry 750 tons of cargo. The tugboats, which can also pull the new barges (at a higher speed than they can move with their own engines) have 1,200 horsepower engines.

Last month, Iran announced that its second domestically built large warship, the 1,400 ton Vilayet (the second ship of the Jamaran class), was now in service and stationed in the Caspian Sea.

The Iranian navy could certainly use some new warships. Currently, the only other major warships it has are three elderly British built frigates (1,540 tons each), and two U.S. built corvettes (1,100 tons each). There are about fifty smaller patrol craft, ten of them armed with Chinese anti-ship missiles. There are another few dozen mine warfare, amphibious and support ships. The three most powerful ships in the fleet are three Russian Kilo class subs. There are several older North Korean mini-subs as well, some of them built in Iran. Or so it is said.

All that's been heard of from Iran's naval shipbuilding facility at the Bushehr shipyard are reports of labor problems. There have been strikes and lockouts, and complaints of poor designs and sloppy management. Iran has, for the last two decades, announced many new, locally made, weapons, that turned out to be more spin than substance.

Iran does have commercial shipbuilding firms, that produce merchant ships that are larger than destroyers. Thus it was believed that Iran could build something that looks like a destroyer. Iran has also announced that it has built very small submarines, but not much has been seen of these, other than the fulsome press releases. There's no doubt that Iran can build a lot of amphibious shipping, and that's what they are starting to do.


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