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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Iranian Subs Go to Sea = Yawn

Iranian Kilo-Class Sub
Much ado has been made about an announced sortie of Iranian ships (and wow!, maybe a submarine) in the Red Sea, see Iranian Navy Deploys Submarines in High Seas.

International waters is international waters, and the Iranians have as much right to be out there as anyone else with a boat collection.

I view this more as a publicity ploy that allows other naval forces to collect intelligence on Iranian submarines.

Here's the whole Fars News Agency report for your reading pleasure (I added some highlighting, but left off the snarking):
Informed sources said that the Iranian Navy has deployed its submarines in far seas as part of its plan for widening its naval presence in the high seas and oceans.

An informed source told FNA on Tuesday that the submarines were deployed in international waters together with the dispatch of 14th fleet of warships sent by Iran to the high seas.

The move comes after high-ranking Navy commanders announced preparedness to send submarines to long-term missions.

The source said that Iran's fleet of warships is now in the Red Sea as part of its naval mission.

"Identifying combat vessels of the different world countries, collecting information about sea beds in international waters are among the main tasks of these submarines," the source added.

The Iranian Navy dispatched its 14th flotilla of warships to the Gulf of Aden in May to protect the country's cargo ships and oil tankers against Somali pirates.

The 14th fleet of warships, comprised of IRI Bandar Abbas Warship and IRI Shahid Naqdi Destroyer, is tasked with patrolling and providing security for Iran's shipping lines.

In March, a senior Navy commander of the Iranian Army stressed the need for the Navy to boost its naval deployments outside the country's territorial waters as a strategic force.

"The Navy is in the middle of field and should be present all throughout the world seas," Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Gholam-Reza Khadem Biqam said at the time.

Also in March, Commander of Iran's Navy Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced that the Iranian Navy planned to expand its operational zone far beyond the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman in the next Iranian year (started on March 21).

In December, Sayyari said that the country was deploying submarines in the high seas to further boost its military power.

"To become the superior power in the region, we should turn into a regional power in military defense, and we should prove our might and capability not only inside, but also outside the region," he continued.

The Iranian Army Navy and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy have tight cooperation in controlling the country's waterways and protecting Iran's interests inside territorial waters and in the high seas.

Iran's naval power has even been acknowledged by foes. In a Sep. 11, 2008 report, the Washington Institute for the Near East Policy said that in the two decades since the Iraqi imposed war on Iran, the Islamic Republic has excelled in naval capabilities and is able to wage unique asymmetric warfare against larger naval forces.

According to the report, Iran's Navy has been transformed into a highly motivated, well-equipped, and well-financed force and is effectively in control of the world's oil lifeline, the Strait of Hormuz.
You might note that the Iranian "flotilla" and "fleet" consists of two surface ships. The IRIS Bandar Abas is a support and training ship and the other ship is a corvette, regardless of how Fars classifies it.

Exactly where the submarine (In my view, probably a single submarine, not "submarines" as indicated in the Fars piece) has deployed is not revealed except in "international waters." Maybe that's the Red Sea, maybe that's 30 miles off the Iranian coast.

Iranian Nahang Mini-Sub
Iran's submarine fleet is not large, as set out here:
Iran's submarine force currently consists of three Russian Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines (Tareq 901, Noor 902, Yunes 903), one 500-ton Nahang and four 120-ton Yono-class (also referred to as Qadir or Ghadir-class) midget submarines.
Iranian Ghadir Midget Sub
I doubt they sent any of the midget boats out, unless they were carried on some other ship. The Nahang is mini-sub, with external weapons, and unlikely to make a long transit. So, let's say they sent a Kilo somewhere. Good for them. Other navies do that all the time, without all the hoopla. Of course, this announcement is all about hoopla, isn't it?


This deployment reminds me of the old military adage that tracers "work both ways," in that  the announced mission of the Iranian sub's tasks is "Identifying combat vessels of the different world countries, collecting information about sea beds in international waters . . ." but going to sea also allows "the combat vessels of the different world countries" to do a little intelligence gathering on the Iranian submarine(s).

Got a ways to go on the "regional domination" thing. But, hey, they are out there. And maybe they are looking for places to lay mines. Or whatever.

See The Arkenstone's take on the deployment.

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