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M/V Saviz - IRGCN Afloat Forward Support Base

The IRGC has deployed military equipment (including espionage equipment, military radars, armed speedboats, etc.) on a merchant ship called the Saviz. The position of SAVIZ is at Red Sea (coordinates 15°53'N 41°08'E / 15.88N 41.14E). The ship has been patrolling the waters of Bab al-Mandeb for about three years without moving to a specific destination, monitoring traffic in that strategic area, and leading Houthi missile strikes on naval targets. According to intelligence data, the ship, which operates under the guise of "commercial container transport", has "fast boats" equipped with "23 mm Z-type cannons" as well as "military radars", which is basically the same as frameworks and Conventional standards for cargo ships or merchant fleets in international waters are not only inconsistent, but also confirm the reality of what the clerical regime calls "terrorist activity" under the guise of shipping.

In this regard, Free Bacon (August 5, 2016) writes: "This Iranian ship, which is present in the waters of the Red Sea with the cargo ship, was identified as the 'mother ship' and its mission in the Red Sea was to collect and transmit information for Houthi attacks. It has increased in recent months. "One of the actions taken by this Iranian ship is to provide information for the recent attack in July by Houthi militants backed by the Iranian regime against a Saudi tanker." (Mojahedin Khalq website, August 15, 2016)

Earlier, intelligence agencies in the West had announced that Khamenei's dictatorship had sent shipments of weapons, missiles and weapons to Yemen and the Horn of Africa. In this regard, the Quds Force has launched a unit called "190" to smuggle weapons and missiles by air, land and sea to critical areas such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and other African countries.

The Iranian Saviz ship has been stationed for three years in international waters in the Red Sea near the Yemeni coasts. The Iranian ship, which practices military activities under a trade cover, has previously transferred experts from Iran to Yemen. Saviz, which is registered at the UN’s International Maritime Organization, is 87 nautical miles away from Yemeni coasts. The ship which is variously reported to be 150 or 175 meters in length has been equipped with four 50 caliber machineguns that have been hidden by the ship’s crew.

The ship also has two military boats and more than 16 multipurpose devices such as surveillance radars and monitoring devices. It also has a satellite and highly-developed military communication system which does not harmonize with the nature of commercial ships’ work. Al Arabiya detected the movement of one of the two military boats as it headed towards another Iranian military ship called Arzin. The boat received a suspicious shipment of a large size and heavy weight and transferred it to Saviz. It’s uncommon for ships like Saviz to stay in the sea for so long according to the regulations of the International Maritime Organization that regulates ships’ activities as Saviz is not a drillship or a research vessel.

The Islamic Republic has used the sea to confront its Gulf neighbors as well as U.S. interests and has a clear objective of expanding its power in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. The IRGCN’s fast-attack small crafts have engaged in “unsafe and unprofessional” harassment of U.S. naval vessels in international waters on numerous occasions, according to the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel.

The regime’s maritime operations extend beyond the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea. Its support of Houthi militants in Yemen, which presents an escalated threat to both military and commercial interests. In January 2017, a remotely detonated marine craft attacked the Saudi Royal Navy Frigate, Al Madinah. The U.S. Navy determined that the craft was likely provided by the IRGC. Since then, the Houthis have threatened and carried out attacks against Saudi commercial vessels, including a July 2018 attack on a Saudi tanker in the Red Sea. In October 2016, the Iranian-supported Houthi militants ?red anti-ship cruise missiles at U.S. warships in international waters just north of the Bab-al-Mandeb. The attacks came just one week after militants struck the Emirati vessel Swift, disabling the transport ship. The Houthis have also placed naval mines near commercial shipping routes in the Red Sea, threatening freedom of navigation and the free ?ow of commerce in the region.

In 2016, the UN Secretary General expressed concern over Iran’s illicit arms shipments following the seizure of an arms shipment by the U.S. Navy in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. concluded that the shipment originated from Iran and was bound for Yemen, in clear violation of a UN Security Council arms embargo on Houthi militants. Iran has also engaged in the illicit shipping of arms in other regions. There is also mounting evidence of Iran’s provision of ballistic missile technology to the Houthis in Yemen. Debris recovered from recent strikes from Yemen into Saudi Arabia indicate that Iran is providing missile support to the Houthis, which can only escalate the con?ict further. It also poses an even greater threat to regional security.

In the US Marine Corps, the 2016 Marine Corps Operating Concept (MOC) directed partnering with the Navy to develop Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO). As an operational concept, EABO enables the naval force to persist forward within the arc of adversary long-range precision fires to support our treaty partners with combat credible forces on a much more resilient and difficult to target forward basing infrastructure. EABO are designed to restore force resiliency and enable the persistent naval forward presence that has long been the hallmark of naval forces. Most significantly, EABO reverse the cost imposition that determined adversaries seek to impose on the joint force.

EABO guide an apt and appropriate adjustment in future naval force development to obviate the significant investment adversaries have made in long-range precision fires. Potential adversaries intend to target forward fixed and vulnerable bases, as well as deep water ports, long runways, large signature platforms, and ships. By developing a new expeditionary naval force structure that is not dependent on concentrated, vulnerable, and expensive forward infrastructure and platforms, EABO enable naval forces to partner and persist forward to control and deny contested areas where legacy naval forces cannot be prudently employed without accepting disproportionate risk.

The official spokesman of the Arab Coalition showed pictures 24 September 2018 of the Iranian regime's military ship with a commercial cover painted in the color of merchant ships. Turki al-Maliki told a news conference that the Iranian ship was registered under a trademark, but was in fact a military ship and was named "Saviz". He added that the ship monitored ships traveling through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. The spokesman of the Arab Coalition continued by showing the pictures of this military ship of the Iranian regime in the cover of a merchant ship and continued that interceptors were installed in this Iranian ship. The ship is also equipped with boats that engage in suspicious activities. The ship also transports military experts. He concluded that the Houthis had seized a number of oil tankers bound for Sanaa.

The ship was delisted from US sanctions by the Obama administration as part of its efforts to uphold the landmark nuclear deal with Iran. The Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published the names of 59 individuals, 385 entities, 76 aircraft, and 227 vessels that were removed from the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List), the Foreign Sanctions Evaders (FSE) List, and/or the Non-SDN Iran Sanctions Act (NS-ISA) List on January 16, 2016—Implementation Day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of July 14, 2015 (JCPOA). This included SAVIZ (f.k.a. AZALEA; f.k.a. IRAN OCEAN CANDLE; f.k.a. LANTANA; f.k.a. OCEAN CANDLE) General Cargo 23,176 DWT 16,694 GRT Iran flag (IRISL); Vessel Registration Identification IMO 9167253 (Iran) (vessel) [NPWMD].

The Trump administration will take action against an Iranian ship that has been stationed at a key choke point in the Red Sea for months and is believed to be providing significant military and logistic aid to the Houthi militias Yemen. Washington Free Beacon website quoted 15 August 2018 US officials and military experts familiar with the situation as saying that the ship which is identified as “Saviz” is an Iranian ship believed to be masked as a cargo vessel has been identified as the “mother ship” stationed in the Red Sea providing targeting information for Houthi anti-ship attacks, which have increased in recent months, including a late July attack by Iranian-backed rebels on a Saudi oil tanker.

On 05 November 2018 the SAVIZ General Cargo Iran flag wss added to OFAC's SDN List; Additional Sanctions Information - Subject to Secondary Sanctions; Vessel Registration Identification IMO 9167253 (vessel) [IRAN] (Linked To: ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN SHIPPING LINES). The Trump administration action against the Saviz and other Iranian vessels is part of a broader package of sanctions expected to kick back in on November 5, officials confirmed. Sanctions targeted Iran’s port operations, shipping and shipbuilding sectors, and other affiliates.

The Iranian ship “Saviz” had been anchored for more than a year in the Red Sea, near the Straits of Bab al-Mandeb in international waters. The ship had been carrying commercial containers officially, since mid-2017. Following the comments by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Nasser Shabani on the commanding of the Houthi militias to strike two Saudi oil tankers near Bab al-Mandab, observers highlighted Iran’s role in threatening the navigation of the Red Sea through this sophisticated radar-equipped vessel and boats equipped with guns to guide militia boats. According to Iranian news outlets, many of the weapons handed over by the Iranian regime to the Houthi militias were carried out by speedboats from the same vessel. The boats were equipped with 23 mm ZU guns.

Saviz itself is equipped with a radar rarely seen on cargo ships, but used to steer the Houthi militias’ boats when attacking Saudi oil tankers. The commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Qasim Suleimani, said that “the Red Sea is no longer safe,” referring to the attack by the Houthi militias, backed by Tehran, an attack on two Saudi oil tankers, indicating Iran’s involvement directly, threatening the navigation in the Red Sea by instructing their Houthi militias to attack tankers.

US officials familiar with the Saviz’s actions in the Red Sea told the Free Beacon the Iranian vessel is barely attempting to obfuscate its military role in aiding Houthi rebels in Yemen. “The Iranians aren’t even trying to disguise the military use of the ship,” said one US official familiar, who was not authorized to speak on record about the situation. “You don’t need classified intelligence or satellite photos of the decks to know that merchant ships simply don’t act this way.”

“If you’re moving goods, you don’t anchor in the same place for weeks at a time, let alone outside a war zone, let alone a war zone where militias are firing missiles at other ships,” the source said. “The Obama administration enabled the Saviz to sail globally. President Trump will put a stop to that.”

The Iranian ship’s suspicious activities haf been cited in recent months by US military experts and foreign governments, including the Saudi government, which has been targeted by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. “A ship like Saviz could carry [Iranian military] Qods Force command and control elements and host berthing and logistics, while controlling the activities of smaller, lower-profile craft,” according to J.E. Dyer, a retired Naval intelligence officier who recently published a lengthy analysis on the ship. “The maritime problem in a chokepoint is short-legged but very multifaceted. It’s time to get the sanctions game face back on, and pay Saviz or her sister ships a visit with a US cruiser or destroyer.”

US officials familiar with the movements of the ship “Saviz” in the Red Sea, told the Washington Free Beacon “It is certainly that the Iranian ship provides logistical support for the Houthis in Yemen.” An American official said “The Iranians are not even trying to hide the military use of the commercial ship.”

US defense experts with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, or WINEP, also have cited the Saviz as providing potential support and logistics to Houthi rebels as they commit acts of terrorism in the region. WINEP’s experts have advocated that the Trump administration “direct more intelligence gathering against the Iranian ‘mothership’ Saviz, a cargo vessel moored off the Red Sea archipelago of Dahlak.”

“The Iranian military is likely using the Saviz to provide targeting data for Houthi anti-shipping attacks,” according to WINEP. “Closer observation of the vessel and the threat of exposing its suspected intelligence role might be enough to make it leave the area. Alternatively, if authorities are able to prove its complicity in military activities, they may have a case for boarding and seizing it, which could yield further evidence that Iran is violating UN sanctions and supporting attacks on civilian vessels.”

The Saudi government has been tracking the Saviz for more than a year and has documented its extended stay in the Red Sea, activity usual for a typical cargo ship. “Saviz appears to have remained there for extended periods in the months since,” Dyer noted in her analysis. “This is not the typical profile of a large, modern, ocean-going cargo ship, which would be expensively ill-employed lingering among islands in thesouthern Red Sea.”

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Page last modified: 20-05-2022 17:50:46 ZULU