Murphy's Law: The Truth About The Iranian 28th Fleet


December 4, 2013: With great media fanfare Iran announced on November 20 th that it had dispatched its “28th fleet” to visit ports in India and Sri Lanka. The press releases mentioned that one of the ships was a “heavy submarine” and another was a “helicopter carrier.” The reality was somewhat different.

The heavy submarine was a Russian made Kilo class boat. These are 2,300 ton (surface displacement) diesel electric submarines that first appeared in the 1980s. Each one has six torpedo tubes and a crew of 57. Kilos carry 18 torpedoes or Klub anti-ship missiles (with a range of 300 kilometers and launched underwater from the torpedo tubes). Russia only bought 24 of them but exported over 30, including 3 to Iran. Kilo was considered a successful design, especially with export customers.

The Kilos are the largest warships in the Iranian Navy and tend to travel on the surface most of the time. The rest of the 28th fleet consists of a 1,500 ton British built frigate (from the 1970s) and an equally elderly 4,400 ton supply ship with a helicopter landing area and the ability to carry a helicopter. This vessel was described as a “helicopter carrier.”

Iran bought the three Kilos in the late 1980s and received them in the early 1990s. These boats are really not suited to the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf and are stationed on the Indian Ocean coast. They are often sent on these good-will trips because they are vastly outclassed by the local opposition (Western and modern Arab warships and anti-submarine aircraft). The Kilos are not particularly heavy as submarines go. Most nuclear attack subs displace over 7,000 tons and ballistic missile carrying nuclear subs range from 12,000 to 24,000 tons.


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