IRINS Makran - Afloat Forward Support Base
Has the rivalry with the army led to the IRGC's introduction of Rudaki Container as an ocean transport? The unveiling of the former container ship and the current landing craft of Shahid Roudaki Sepah as an ocean-going ship by this paramilitary IRGC was an attempt to show the IRGC in the field of naval operations in open waters. It seemed that the main purpose of this news show was to prevent the allocation of funds to the Persian Gulf navigation project in the next fiscal year and to allocate it to the IRGC navy to upgrade and equip the small Roudaki vessel with more equipment and weapons.
Earlier in 2020, Izoiko began preparing an Iranian-seized Emirati tanker said to be called the Persian Gulf [Arabic = "al-khalij al-farsi", Persian = "khalij fars"]. Satellite images, as well as images published in cyberspace of the company's facilities, indicate that the reconstruction and overhaul of the command bridge, its structure and deck, as well as their retrofitting, began in the summer of 2020. For the first time in September of this year, Admiral Hossein Khanzadi announced the construction and equipping of this ship for the Army Navy in the media and announced its completion and delivery to the Army Navy in the near future.
Based on the published images and considering the dimensions of the tanker being converted had a length of 231 meters. It seems that according to the plans of the Deputy of Jihad for Self-Sufficiency Jihad and Industrial Research of the Navy, ISICO is turning the ship into a naval base similar to the US Navy's USS Lewis B. Puller. The Lewis Puller Naval Base had been present in the northern and western regions of the Persian Gulf since 2017 in order to counter the attacks of the IRGC naval fast boats.
The ship's navigation deck, once equipped, will be able to accept seven light and heavy transport helicopters, as well as anti-submarine and anti-naval minesweepers at the same time, and will allow the navy to use and send it to areas such as the Gulf of Aden. And the ability to use its helicopters to deal more effectively with piracy. A mission similar to that carried out by the US Navy with USS Lewis Bipoler in the northern Persian Gulf over the past three years.
According to what has been announced about the ship, it can be expected that this ship will be very similar to the American ESB class, which is equipped with a variety of weapons and the ability to carry various types of helicopters and UAVs. The military navigator, like the American ESB-class ships, will be built with modifications to a tanker. In 2013, the US Navy developed a new floating class called the Naval Base (ESB) based on the Alaska-class tanker platform.
In the US Navy, the Afloat Forward Support Base (the official term for 'mother ship') are now called Expeditionary Support Base ships, which are large commercial ships that have been converted for counter-terrorism operations. The offshore stationing is much less vulnerable to attack than a shore based station.
NASSCO’s design of the Expeditionary Support Base (ESB)—formerly known as the Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) — provides full support for U.S. Navy minecountermeasure operations; however, there is much more that this platform can be designed to do. The Initial Design and Naval Architecture Department (IDNA) has developed ESB variants that will support forward-deployed vessels in peacetime and in crisis.
Three of the potential variants include the Underwater Support, Global Fleet Station, and Enhanced Connector Support vessels. The Underwater Support vessel adds moon pool capability to the existing ESB. By providing access from the Mission Deck through ship structure to the water below, this variant can deploy special-operations or mine-countermeasure submersibles in an environment that is protected from both rough weather and unwanted surveillance by interested observers. The Global Fleet Station offers operational and maintenance support of forward-deployed vessels. This variant is able to dry-dock and perform routine maintenance on ships including the LCS 1, LCS 2, and JHSV. The Enhanced Connector Support vessel restores MLP-CCS capability to the ESB. This alternative supplements existing aviation capabilities with three sheltered LCAC lanes, vehicle space, and improved interoperability with displacement landing craft. Each of these ESB variants can enhance the effectiveness of the seabase by increasing operational reach and supporting joint operations. For forcible entry, nothing but an amphibious ship will do. For everything else, there’s ESB and its variants.
It is reported that this ship is a military conversion of the oil tanker BETA (IMO: 9486910) Callsign A8TO5, the former AL BUHAIRA, a Crude Oil Tanker that was built in 2009-2010 by SUMITOMO HEAVY INDUSTRIES, owned by IONIAN SHIPPING MANAGEMENT - FUJAIRAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, operated by HELD MARITIME SHIPPING LLC and sailing under the flag of Liberia.
The ship was reportedly seized from the UAE, but it is not immediately possible to identify the seizure of this ship based on open sources. In July 2019 the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran detained a foreign oil tanker it said had been smuggling fuel. An account published by PressTV, an official English-language Iranian website, included a video clip it said had been provided by the Revolutionary Guards showing the vessel’s name on its stern as the Riah. A United Nations agency acknowledged that a US-sought oil tanker “hijacked” off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after allegedly smuggling Iranian crude oil is back in Iranian waters. The International Labour Organization (ILO) said the 274 meters Motor Tanker (M/T) Gulf Sky was hijacked on July 5, citing its captain. The vessel later ended up back in Iranian waters, suggesting Iran itself seized the vessel. The vessel and its sailors had been abandoned by its owners without pay since March off Khorfakkan, a city on the eastern coast of the UAE. On 13 August 2020 The Iranian navy boarded and briefly seized a Liberian-flagged oil tanker. The Iranian navy held the vessel for some five hours before releasing it. The Wila’s registered owner is a Liberian firm called Bandit Shipping Co., managed by Greek firm IMS SA.
In mid-2020, by examining the satellite images of Nadaja base in Bandar Abbas, a point was noticed that at Khark ship did not dock in its port and the anchorage hosting oil tankers. This mooring continued until the end of August, until in September, the tanker was no longer seen in the previous location and the tanker left the Shahid Darvish Industries of the Ministry of Defense. By the measurements made on this tanker, interestingly, its length is very close to the approximate number of 231 meters [750 feet], which was announced by Admiral Khanzadi. Based on the evidence, it seems that the ship is the result of turning the same tanker into an ocean-going helicopter warship.
The tanker came to Shahid Bahonar port in Bandar Abbas. Comparing this image with a satellite image, it could be seen that this tanker is the same tanker that docked at the anchorage of the logistics ship Khark for several months. This tanker moved to the dry dock of Izoiko, next to the facilities of Shahid Darvish Ministry of Defense. In pictures, it can be seen that the reconstruction and overhaul works on the command bridge and the tanker building had been started for weeks. According to official sources, this ship was built more than a year ago.
Makran is a semi-desert coastal strip stretched along southeastern Iran to Pakistan's Balochistan and borders the coasts of Persian Gulf. Winds often blow down from Makran Coast Range in Western Pakistan and Eastern Iran into the coastal valleys, and carry dust out over the Sea. The Iranian Makran is about 350 km wide and located between the Jaz Murian Depression and the Gulf of Oman coast in southeastern Iran.
As Iran marked its Navy Day on Friday 27 November 2020, the country had in recent years sought to bolster its naval capabilities in a bid to project power far beyond its shores, while sanctions have spurred Iran’s domestic defence production. IRINS Makran will be delivered to the IRIN by 21 Decrmber 2020.
In connection with the "Makran" ship, Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, Commander of the Navy, in an exclusive interview with Iran Press News Agency, on the 7th of Azar, Navy Day, stated that "I must point out that we have always had a plan from the leadership to pay attention to the capacities and facilities around us. These facilities are very much inside the country and there is no need to look abroad. In order to be able to settle in the distant high seas without dependence on others, we needed a large vessel to be stationed at sea and, while providing security for itself, to be able to use all the port services that a destroyer receives when it returns to port.
"This means that the destroyer, which is 3,000 kilometers away from the borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, no longer needs to be forced to return to shore for renewal, and everything that happens to it at sea, even if it needs repairs, must be done at sea. The capacity of helicopters and special operations for which it is predictedAnd Marine commandos and commandos to be stationed on the vessel with their equipment and weapons, including speedboats. UAV operations have also been considered, and a considerable amount of the aristocracy debate provides us with information, all of which is to support the fleet operating in the remote area."
Six helicopters in their types and varieties are even the heaviest which exists in the Islamic Republic of Iran can sit on the deck of this vessel, which is unique and previously did not have this possibility. All helicopters can sit on it and perform helicopter operations and even have the possibility of maintenance and refueling, and it is a large capacity that will join the Navy in December and help us have a longer hand in the distant seas.
Iran's merchant ships that want to establish a connection to the west must cross the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, then cross the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb and enter the Red Sea, cross the Suez Canal and enter the Mediterranean, as well as Cross the Strait of Gibraltar and enter the Atlantic Ocean. In these routes, wherever the center of insecurity is formed, either the international community should help and secure the region for the benefit of the international community, or if necessary, the Islamic Republic exclusively covers a certain vessel and does so by destroyers.
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