Powerful new Iranian warship commissioned

Shahid Soleimani (Photo: FARS News Agency, Iran)

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) continues to enhance its capabilities and even recently commissioned its most powerful warship to date.

Constructed at the Qeshin Island shipyard, Shahid Soleimani is a large, heavily armed catamaran attack craft. With an estimated length of 65 metres, the vessel is the first Iranian warship to be fitted with a vertical launch system (VLS) for surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

Its missile fit consists of six VLS cells, most likely for short- and medium-range Sayyad SAMs, and four box launchers for Ghadir anti-shipping cruise missiles. There is a gun armament of a 30-millimetre cannon and four 20 millimetre rotary cannon. Aviation capability is provided by a flight deck that can operate the Iranian variant of the Bell 412 helicopter as well as unmanned aerial vehicles.

Official Iranian claims that the new ship is fitted with advanced target detection, fire control, and electronic warfare equipment remain unconfirmed.

Propulsion is reportedly provided by four high-speed diesel engines, giving a likely top speed of about 30 knots. Also, the superstructure and hull have some stealth characteristics.

The commissioning of Shahid Soleimani, together with the impending introduction into service of the very large base ship Shahid Mahdavi, represents major advances in both the combat capabilities and status of the IRGCN, which has, up to now, relied mainly upon a vast fleet of small fast attack craft dedicated to coastal operations. It provides the service with offshore capability, as well as indicating that it might be gaining political ground on its rival force, the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy, which has long dominated Iran’s offshore naval operations.

Two more vessels of the class are reportedly under construction.

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.