Sea Logistics

Iran Unveils Its New Sea Base Warship That Looks Like A Floating Arms Bazaar

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has unveiled an unorthodox new multirole warship that it says is armed with anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles and is capable of carrying helicopters, drones, and fast attack boats. Described by local media sources as an “oceangoing warship capable of carrying aircraft,” the Shahid Roudaki is reportedly named after an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy commander who was assassinated, continuing a recent convention of naming new weapons systems after “martyrs” of this kind.

Reportedly measuring 492 feet long, and with a displacement of 4,000 tons, the Shahid Roudaki is a former roll-on/roll-off ship that’s been adapted for military use. It joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) fleet today in a ceremony attended by IRGC Commander Major General Hossein Salami and several senior military officials.

According to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency, the IRGC plans to use the Shahid Roudaki as a “marine city,” able to carry out a wide range of missions including combat, reconnaissance, and logistics, “with the purpose of ensuring sustainable security in maritime routes and rescuing trade vessels and fishing boats of Iran and regional countries.”

The same report adds that the IRGC Navy has “already expressed readiness to dispatch vessels to international waters.” This suggests that the Shahid Roudaki is envisaged operating outside Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and could instead potentially range as far as the Red Sea.

The various weapons and other systems that are seen on the deck in pictures from the ceremony at least visually reflects the warship’s purported mission spectrum, as a multipurpose vessel for long-range operations. From bow to stern, the weapons visible on deck comprise eight anti-ship cruise missiles in four twin container launchers, six Ababil-2 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a single Bell 412 helicopter, four speedboats, and a 3rd Khordad surface-to-air missile system on a road-mobile transport-erector-launcher plus what appears to be an associated command vehicle. Iranian media reports that the vessel is also equipped with a three-dimensional phased-array radar, plus “advanced communication systems for electronic warfare.”

While the type of anti-ship cruise missiles the ship is seen carrying has not been officially announced, there has been speculation on social media that these could be Qader or Qadir weapons, to which Iranian sources attribute a range of 124 miles and 186 miles respectively. These are reportedly derived from the Noor anti-ship missile, which is an Iranian copy of the Chinese C-802.


Four twin container launchers for anti-ship cruise missiles are located toward the bow.

The Ababil-2 UAVs, which are launched from fixed stands on the ground, are ostensibly designed for surveillance missions, but can also carry explosive warheads and function as “suicide drones.” The Ababil series, and variants and derivatives thereof, has become something of a signature weapon in various conflicts that Iran has been involved with, in recent years, including the Yemeni civil war. Iran has other types of smaller unmanned aircraft, many of which can be used as suicide drones, that it could potentially launch from this ship. 

Aside from these larger drones, images taken over the bow of the Shahid Roudaki reveal a pair of quadcopters, small-scale UAVs that could be used for surveillance in the vicinity of the warship, or potentially delivering lightweight weapons. 

These drones pose very real threats, as evidenced by the unprecedented strikes on oil-related infrastructure in Saudi Arabia in 2019, which also involved several land-attack cruise missiles. The U.S. Navy also notably knocked down at least one Iranian unmanned aircraft after it came within “threatening range” of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer in the Strait of Hormuz that same…

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