Iranian Navy’s Warship IRIS Sahand Capsized Twice And Sinks

An Iranian Navy frigate, IRIS Sahand (74) has capsized and sunk in its home port of Bandar Abbas. The ship is 12 years old, and is among the most modern surface combatants in the Iranian Navy.

The Iranian Navy’s Sahand frigate capsized and sank in shallow waters at the southern port of Bandar Abbas on Tuesday, following a failed attempt to rebalance the vessel after it initially capsized during repairs on Sunday.

The incident occurred when cables holding the ship broke, causing it to capsize again, this time in a deeper area, leading to its complete submersion. The event has raised concerns about the impact on key warfighting systems and the potential for the ship to be out of commission for an extended period.

Local media reported the frigate sunk on July 7, 2024. She is seen rolled over onto her port (left) side, with her bow higher than the stern. Only the side of the hull and sonar dome appear above the water.

Iranian Navy Prone To Serious Accidents

Initial reporting suggests that it is due to a ‘technical failure; during repairs. However we are treating it as the cause is not yet known. Poor maintenance or a parking accident are most likely, but sabotage of some sort cannot be ruled out at this early point. Iranian frigates have been active in the Red Sea where they are suspected of aiding the Houthis attack merchant ships. Sahand has at times been deployed there.

The Iranian Navy (IRIN: Islamic Republic of Iran Navy) has had a series of serious mishaps in recent years. Among them:

  • Sahand’s sister ship Damavand (77) which capsized and sunk after running aground on January 10, 2018.
  • Then on June 2 2021 Iran’s then second largest warship, the Kharg, caught fire and sunk in the Gulf of Oman.
  • Another sister ship, Talayieh, rolled over in a dry dock in Bandar Abbas on December 6, 2021.
  • Other notable accidents have included the support ship Konarak hit by a missile on May 11 2020. That accident was friendly fire, the result of an Iranian missile.

The Sahand is one of Iran’s recent indigenous frigates based on the British designed Vosper Mark 5. These were supplied by Britain before the revolution and remain in service with the Iranian Navy. The newer Moudge class ships, including Sahand, are iterative improvements with alternative weapon fits. Sahand had distinctive sloping sides which appear more modern and may attempt to reduce its radar signature.

Since construction the ship had been upgraded to include a new AESA radar, 4-8 medium range air-defense missiles and double the number of anti-ship missiles. This may have raised her center of gravity.

These warships have been deployed to the Red Sea by Iran where they are suspected of providing help to the Houthi Movement who are attacking merchant ships there. The Houthis are using a range of Iranian supplied or assisted weapons. These include anti-ship ballistic missiles, uncrewed surface vessels, anti-ship missiles and drones. It is possible that the Iranian ships have been providing intelligence and assisting on targeting.

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