In times of crisis, the regime has often resorted to stirring up tensions in the Gulf, and elsewhere in the Middle East, as a means of increasing pressure on the US and its allies. To that end, Iran’s IRGC have been accused of conducting a number of confrontational operations in the Gulf this month, including the temporary seizure of a Chinese tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, which proved to be deeply embarrassing for Tehran, as China is one of the few countries still buying its oil.
There has also been an increase in Revolutionary Guard patrol boats harassing US warships operating in the Gulf, a development which has prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to order the US Navy to destroy Iranian gunboats if they continue with their provocative actions.
Iran doesn’t just have fiberglass patrol boats. The (old Iranian warship, Sahand, left was sunk by the US Navy – now a reef/marine habitat)
They launched a “New Sahand” corvette that they call a “stealth destroyer”. I call it another target, but I’m a cynic.
We’ve discussed swimmer delivery vehicles here on the blog recently. In August 2000, Iran announced that it had launched its first domestically produced light submarine or swimmer delivery vehicle, named the Al-Sabiha 15 because of its 15 meters length, in an official ceremony at the Bandar Abbas naval base. In May 2005, Iran navy announced that it had launched its first Ghadir-class midget submarine and on 8 March 2006 announced that it had launched another midget submarine named Nahang (Persian: whale). They have a few corvettes that mount anti-shipping missiles and have some older Russian Kilo Class (diesel/electric) submarines. However, by all estimates, any new naval construction is likely on hold since Iran is broke.
Don’t count out Iran’s Communist Chinese allies. Sure, they seized a Chinese tanker, but it was a mistake. They would likely reach out to China before starting a war to get Beijing’s blessings and secure their support.