Iran Ajr Class Landing Ship
Hejaz Class Landing Ship
In 1978 Iran purchased 4 commercial landing craft from Japan. Originally intended to be used as freighters, they were put into action at the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war as covert minelayers. Blunt bowed craft with a forward loading ramp, these craft had a unloaded displacement of 614 tons and a displacement of 2,274 tons when fully loaded. 2 Diesel engines driving 2 screws gave the ships a maximum speed of 11 knots. The four ships were originally named Arya Rakhsh, Arya Sahand, Arya Akian, and Arya Dokht, before being renamed after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. They became the Iran Ajr, Iran Bahr, Iran Asr, and Iran Ghadr respectively.
These ships were delivered unarmed, but were fitted with two 12.7mm machine guns for self defense, and carried a number of mines stowed on the deck. Mines were launched over the side of the vessel. The Iran Bahr was lost in 1980, and the Iran Ajr was scuttled by its crew after being boarded and captured by US special operations forces during the Tanker War. The capture of the Iran Ajr in 1987, which Iranian authorities had contended was not involved in any military operations was a major event, and a major prize for Western powers.
The 2 remaining ships of the class were still in use as landing ships and mine layers through 1995, but were noted as out of active service, replaced by the Hejaz class LSTs by 2000.
Also potentially active in the mine laying role were 3 Hejaz class (formerly Iran Hormuz-21 class) landing ships, delivered between 1984 and 1985 from the Netherlands for commercial purposes as in the case of the Iran Ajr. While the exact nature of their role was uncertain, they were listed part of the active force in 2008 and could be easily converted to mine laying duties.
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