The Iranian Navy’s guided missile frigate IRIS Sahand, commissioned in 2018, partially sank while in port at Bandar Abbas on 7 July 2024, following an unspecified ‘incident’, with efforts underway to right the vessel.

According to the state-owned and funded Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), the country’s Army news portal reported on 7 July that the IRIS Sahand had “lost its balance due to water leaking in its tanks as it was undergoing repairs” at Bandar Abbas, Iran.

The IRNA reported that the vessel was being “returned to balance”, with social media images showing the IRIS Sahand sitting on 90 degrees in the water as cables are tied to prevent further overturning or a potential capsizing of the vessel.

In addition, “several people” sustained “minor injuries” in the incident and were receiving medical care, the IRNA said.

International media reports stated that the incident resulted in two fatalities.

Iran’s navy: modernisation and accidents

Commissioned into service with the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy in 2018, the IRIS Sahand is designated as being a guided missile frigate by Iran, although the vessel’s size, at 95 metres in length and displacing between 2,000-2,500 tonnes, is more in the corvette/offshore patrol vessel range.

The vessel is deemed to have a relatively kinetic outfitting, featuring a 76mm main gun, and up to 40mm secondary weapons, in addition to anti-surface and anti-air missiles.

The Iranian Navy is also in the process of building a new class of frigates, the Mouj class, based on the Alvand class, displacing around 1,400 tonnes compared to the 1,100 tonnes of their predecessors.

At around 94m in length, the Mouj-class frigates are similar in size to an OPV, although are equipped with a number of anti-surface warfare capabilities including main guns and Nour anti-ship missiles, which have purported range of 200km.

The Mouj class is also claimed to have anti-air warfare capabilities as well as the ability to field hypersonic missiles, although this is unable to be independently confirmed.

Although not noted for its naval capabilities, Iran does operate a collection of surface warships derived from older UK-origin designs introduced into service in the 1960s, with newer designs such as the Mouj class an attempt to modernise the force.

However, Iranian Navy warships have a history of accidents both in port and on operations, such as in 2021 when the replenishment vessel IRIS Karg caught fire during operations in the Gulf of Oman and sank.

While the Iranian Navy is militarily the junior partner of the IRGC (Navy), it does operate regionally, such as in January 2024 when it deployed a warship to the Red Sea as a show of force in support of Yemen’s ongoing attacks against shipping.