August 14, 2022:
Last year Iran announced a new ship, the Shahid Soleimani class, had been put into service. This was the second HARTH (High Aspect Ratio Twin Hull) type ship Iran had announced. The first such HARTH ship was revealed in 2016 as a new type of Iranian warship, the 800-ton Shahid Nazeri. What was displayed was a 55 meter (180 feet) long catamaran with a small helicopter pad which was shown holding a light (under two ton) civilian helicopter. There were no visible weapons on the helicopter or the ship. Later an autocannon and two machine-guns were installed. The Iranians said Shahid Nazeri had a top speed of 50 kilometers and a max range of 10,000 kilometers. Shahid Nazeri can carry about a hundred passengers and crew. This was clearly a civilian design painted and presented as an unarmed warship later referred to as HARTH 55, and turned out to be the prototype for the larger Shahid Soleimani, which is definitely a warship. Satellite photos later revealed at least three more under construction. Shahid Soleimani ships are also referred to as HARTH 65 and are apparently armed with some anti-ship missiles. Because of its high twin hulls, HARTH 65 can conceal two or more armed speed boats between the twin-hulls. From the air the speedboats would not be visible, allowing HARTH 65 to get them close to a target undetected from the air. HARTH 65 is heavier and referred to as a corvette that can handle rough weather better than single hull or conventional twin-hull ships. Both HARTH ships are made of aluminum and belong to the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) Navy, which handles unconventional warfare.
Catamaran type warships are nothing new. In 2014 Taiwan put into service the 560-ton Tuo Chiang class corvette that is 60.4 meters long and has a top speed of 80 kilometers an hour. The crew of 41 operates several weapons systems, including 16 anti-ship missiles (8 each of Hsiung-feng 2 and 3 models) , a 76mm cannon, a 20mm anti-missile autocannon, six torpedo tubes and four 12.7mm machine-guns. The Hsiung-feng 3 is described in Taiwan as a “carrier killer” and does not use the high hulls of the HARTH type ships.