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01 May 2015


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"...how a country like Iran can coordinate, if at all, between their ‘regular navy’ and a separate organization run by the Revolutionary Guards."

My understanding is that the Iranian Navy (IRIN) has responsibility for the Caspian, the Gulf of Oman, and the open ocean beyond. Only the naval component of the Revolutionary Guards has responsibility for the Persian Gulf inside the Straits, and probably defense of the Strait itself.

FB Ali

Babel Fish,

Your post adds a little frosting to the comical reaction of the US to what appears to be a commercial dispute involving the ship's owners.

At an appearance at NYU on April 29 Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif was asked about this. His reply was that the Marshall Island flagged ship was taken into custody in response to a court judgement against the owners. As soon as the requisite payment is made the ship will be released.

Nothing strange or sinister there. Many countries, foreign corporations and individuals have had their assets (including ships and planes) seized in the US as a result of US court judgements.

Zarif's explanation is at the beginning of this 1hr.30min video. However, I would strongly recommend that everyone watch the full video for a remarkable and impressive performance by the FM, which also clarifies many matters routinely twisted by the Western MSM:



mike, is that new? In Praying Mantis, the Navy took out a lot of assets and some where relative big boys. I admit to not knowing what the IRGCN has in the way of a Navy.


Thank you, Sir. IMO Minister Zarif make his US counterpart look like a inept but very tall parrot.


"American" merchant ships? Are there any, really? IIRC, the average merchant ship is...

- made in Korea
- owned by a Greek (or even better, Cypriot) company
- registered in Panama

... because it's cheaper than paying US taxes.

I think Obama's snarky sense of humor is starting to show up in US foreign policy. I like that.

There's no way Iran would attack a USN ship right now (unless we fired first, big-time). But we'd better be damn careful about false-flag attacks.


Yes, we still have some genuine American merchant ships. Regular 'runs' from US ports directly to other US ports are (or at least were years ago) required to be American-flagged. Of course, this is a _tiny_ portion of all traffic into US ports.


Babelfish -

The division of area responsibilities by the IRIN and IRGCN was done about eight years ago I understand. There is an unclassified ONI doc on the web that goes into some detail of hulls and weapons but it is dated 2009 so the equipment list is suspect.


In any case in the event of hostilities that division of responsibilities could certainly change. And I assume that the IRIN must have a home port at Bandar Abbas and/or Bushehr inside the Gulf, as the port at Jask outside the Straits may not be spacious enough for all IRIN assets. I read just recently that Iran is trying to develop another port outside the Straits close to the Iran/Pakistani border. Can't recall where I saw that or what the schedule was for completion.

Bill H

"...the LCSs doing these duties, equipped with a Surface Warfare module."

Being a former submarine electrician, not privy to stragic thinking, and perhaps a Luddite to boot, I am unclear on the principle involved with these ships. What happens if an LCS equipped with a surface warfare module encounters an enemy submarine? Does it beat feet for port, swap to the anti-submarine warfare module, and hope the submarine will still be there when it gets back?

Yes, I know they are unlikely to encounter an enemy submarine in the Persian Gulf, but generally speaking... Although that's not actually impossible, iirc, Iran has submarines.


"What happens if an LCS equipped with a surface warfare module encounters an enemy submarine? "

Think of it that way: What happens if a transport aircraft encounters a fighter jet? Shall we make transport aircraft dogfight capable? What happens when a truck meets a tank? Shall we armour all trucks?

In case of the LCS, they are so fast they might be able to outrun torpedoes if they detect them early enough. They would also have to call in ASW capable forces.

Given the size of the LCS, they could be accompanied by Perry frigates, which could protect them against submarine and air attack. They'd be about of equal size. Oh wait ...

As it goes the only all-round vessel up to the job atm would be a (cruiser sized) Arleigh Burke class destroyer.


Bill, Let me add this to CP's answer.

First, the Iranians do have Kilo class subs and they are no slouches if properly maintained and operated. See the Indian Navy's history for what happens if they are not. (one blew up at a dock) The Kilos were designed for the littoral environment,

I would imagine that there is a Virginia class sub with ears wide open very near the Straits of Hormuz right now. They too were designed with littoral capabilities. Along with other assets, they would be the primary anti-sub counter.

The LCSs will probably be operated in pairs, with multiple mission modules. The trimarans can sport two separate modules. So, they can be equipped for mine sweeping and anti-sub work at the same time. As we've discussed before, the Navy loves networking and is working hard on data fusion. I also believe there will be Navy P-8s operating in the same theater. It would all go into managing ASW when that task was needed.

William R. Cumming

ALL: Wondering how a submarine sinking results in identification of the culprit if no actor admits it?

And do any sub-state actors have subs? IRG being one to wonder about?

Babak Makkinejad

There has been an Iranian ship rotting at an Indian port for years...

Bill H

@confusedponderer, Well, a transport plane is not a warplane, nor is a truck an instrument of war, so I would not expect either of them to do much fighting. Your analogy is similar to asking how effective a RORO container ship would be at anti-submarine warfare.

@BabelFish, I guess I see your point, but I still don't see the point of replacing ships that could serve multiple purposes with ships that can do only one or two things and, as you suggest, having them serve in pairs of different types. That's hardly saving money, as it seems to me you need more ships.

I would be unhappy serving in a Navy where half the force stands by useless in battle because its ships are not equipped for the mission at hand.


"In case of the LCS, they are so fast they might be able to outrun torpedoes if they detect them early enough."

The IRIN is rumored to have an export variant of Russia's 'SHKVAL' (squall) torpedo which has a reported speed of 200 knots. I for one am not sure if this is propaganda or truth. Interestingly, American Edmond Pope, reportedly a former DIA man like our host Colonel Lang, was jailed in Russia for spying on Shkval development and engineering.



The only American flagged merchant ships crossing the Persian Gulf are the civil manned U.S. Military Sealift Command ships. They deliver ammunition, mil trucks and other stuff.

Those ships will often have a "shadow" when near probably hostile water.

This whole current "Iranin convoy to Yemen" (which did not exit at all) and "Iran threatening the street" stuff is just theater to calm down Sudayri Arabia.

Kerry and Zarif are probably having a good laugh over it.



I guess we will just have to re-flag some as we did before. pl

William R. Cumming

DIGRESSION FROM POST AND THREAD: Is there any post WWII study of the German E-boats and their deployments and ops? American PT boats?


WRC, probably somewhere. I've seen summaries of PT boat actions for sale on Amazon. I'd guess the same would be true for the E Boats. Good old Google and Amazon should yield results.

Babak Makkinejad

I think there are only 100 or so US-flagged ships in the world.

And I suppose that the Iranian Naval Forces know them and can steer clear of them.


"I would be unhappy serving in a Navy where half the force stands by useless in battle because its ships are not equipped for the mission at hand."

As would I, Bill. The LCS class is not, IMO, a real 'fighting warship'. It will be made to be one in the process of turning it into a frigate but when you take a mission profile that goes from mine sweeping to ASW work and do not provide enough room in the hull for all of that plus anti-air and surface warfare, well, you get a camel.

On the other hand, I'd rather be on an LCS that one of the old mine sweepers, doing the same job. It all comes down to money though. There isn't enough to go around.


WRC, will try to answer that on Sunday. Adam helped me with some data.

I will say that the IRG having Kilo subs is a reason for profound unhappiness.



Osprey Publishing had a book on the E-Boats. S-Boot the Germans called them, S for schnell.

The Soviets used the German E-Boat design for their 'OSA' class missile boats fielded in the 50s(I think, maybe the 60s?). The IRGCN has Chinese made copies of the OSA. But perhaps their bigger threat is their version of the British Bladerunner-51 which can exceed 65 knots (~75mph). It is small at 15.5 meters, but is said to be extremely stable at high speeds making it an excellent weapons platform.


"The Soviets used the German E-Boat design for their 'OSA' class missile boats"

Unlikely considering that Project 205 Moskit "Osa" succeeded the Project 183R "Komar". If the Russians had built on the S-100, that would have shown in the Komars, which eere built immediately after WW-II.

They instead, just like the later Osas, appear to be an indiginous design as S-100 and Komar's hulls differ significantly, starting but not ending with the beam to length ratio 1:5,8 for the S-100 (it had a round-bottomed displacement hull for better stability in rough seas) and 1:4 for the Komars (apparently a displacement-planing hull) etc. pp.

William R. Cumming

Thanks Mike for this comment!

William R. Cumming

ALL: Perhaps a collective petition from SST to Jane's for annual report on 500 ton or less fighting ships of the world. BTW the America's Cup yachts are being downsized for next competition so perhaps world's navies can pack more into more smaller surface warfare ships? Is this a trend driven by stealth, funding streams or capability?

How does US Navy do cost/benefit analysis for ship design?

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