Surface Forces: Iran's Guerilla Fleet


February 26, 2006: In addition to a modest number of seagoing warships, including submarines, frigates, and large patrol vessels, as well a some amphibious ships and mine warfare vessels, the Iranian Navy, and the maritime wing of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, owns a substantial number small vessels. Not just the "official" small craft, but lots and lots of small boats that regularly carry guys with guns. No official numbers are given, but it appears that the Iranians have several thousand such small craft. These range in size from 23 foot long, motorized "Boston whalers," up to 65 feet long, 28-ton MIG-G-1900 patrol boats, with a few old American "Swift" boats thrown in.

These vessels are armed in various ways. The tiniest craft usually carry small arms, and personnel aboard have been observed wielding hand-held anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. The larger ones usually have heavy machine guns and light cannon. Many of these boats are fast, some able to make as much as 60 kilometers an hour. These craft are ideally suited to "guerrilla warfare at sea" in the constrained waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, particularly since major navies lack much capability to oppose "swarm" attacks by large numbers of fast surface craft.


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