Headquartered in Basra, under Saddam the 5,000-man navy was the smallest branch of the armed forces in early 1988, and, in contrast to the Iranian navy, had played virtually no role in the war. The Iraqi Navy, never a match for Iran's, was virtually inactive since the war broke out.
At the beginning of the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq had CSSC-3 Silkworm coastal defense missiles deployed to two sites, al-Faw in eastern iraq and Ras al-Qulayah naval base in Kuwait. These sites covered both the iraqi and Kuwaiti coastlines and are intended to defend against the approach of allied warships and a US amphibious assault.
On 02 February 1999 US jets dropped precision guided bombs on a battery of Iraqi CSSC-3 Silkworm coastal defense missiles which had been recently deployed to the al-Faw peninsula at the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway. From there they potentially threatened US naval vessels and commercial shipping off the coast of Kuwait, the justification given for the US attack, but they were also within range of downtown Kuwait City.
The post Saddam IqN broke ground on the $100 million Umm Qasr Naval Base infrastructure investment program. Pier and seawall construction difficulties delayed facility completion, though contingency planning and aggressive rectification can mitigate operational impacts. The project was on schedule for completion by the end of 2010. Infrastructure improvements to the munitions magazines, barracks, dining facility, warehouse, simulators, repair facilities, and an operations HQ will prepare the base to receive an expanded fleet and the associated increase in personnel. The GoI continues to pursue contract and funding actions to improve infrastructure elements at the Naval Base.
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