Containership being rebuilt into drone aircraft carrier for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards

The Iranian-flagged containership Perrarin in 2014. As of February 2023, the ship is undergoing conversion into a drone aircraft carrier to be used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. (Photo: Hao-En)

The former containership Perarin, now renamed Shahid Mahdavi, has been in dry dock at the ISOICO shipyard west of Bandar Abbas since May 2022. The 249-metre vessel has been taken over by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN). Recent reports have indicated that the ship is being converted into a drone aircraft carrier capable of launching and recovering large uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAV).

An angled flight deck is being added on to the port side of the vessel. Analysts believe that this will enable operations by large Iranian-built UAVs with offensive capabilities, such as the Shahed-129.

The addition of Shahid Mahdavi to the IRGCN order of battle is in line with both the service’s growing emphasis on UAV operations and its offshore ambitions. This new asset, which has been painted grey and fitted with anti-aircraft guns, will very likely also be capable of embarking helicopters and small fast attack craft. It will therefore significantly enhance the IRGCN’s asymmetrical warfare capabilities. It could also raise the service’s status relative to Tehran’s other maritime force, the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy.

According to some reports, an additional former containership, now named Shahid Bagheri, is also undergoing conversion into a drone aircraft carrier.

Trevor Hollingsbee

Trevor Hollingsbee was a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and Senior Superintendent with the Hong Kong Marine Police. He is Baird Maritime's resident maritime security expert and columnist.