Iran Wants To Make Its Navy Seem More Powerful With This New Ship

The 'Shahid Nazeri' is a new, long-range catamaran. But it's mostly for show.

IRGN Shahid Nazeri

IRGN Shahid Nazeri

This is a helicopter carrying Catamaran in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard NavyFars News Agency

How, exactly, can a smaller nation compete militarily with a superpower?

For Iran, whose relationship with the United States has vacillated between outright hostility to at most lukewarm diplomacy since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, one answer is developing new, small, weird ships. The latest is a helicopter-carrying catamaran named the “Shahid Nazeri.”

Aa reported by Fars News, a media agency controlled by Iran's government:

"Today, Shahid Nazeri speed vessel which can sail long journeys joined the IRGC Navy," General Razmjou told reporters in the Southern city of Bushehr today. He said that the round-the-clock relentless efforts of the Iranian experts and engineers have paved the way for launching the state-of-the-art vessel with the capability to navigate in roaring waters as well as landing and taking off of the military helicopters which is another achievement for the defense sector.

Fars continues:

Shahid Nazeri vessel is capable of conducting operations in tidy waters and carry 100 military personnel and military helicopters. In May, Commander of the IRGC Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi declared that the IRGC has done all the necessary tests and will soon launch mass-production of modern speedboats that cruise at a speed of 80 knots (148 kilometers) per hour.

The cruisers and destroyers used by the US Navy have listed speeds "in excess of 30 knots", (or roughly 34 mph), well below the 92 mph top speed Iran claims.

As a new vessel capable of carrying helicopters and soldiers, the Shahid Nazeri should be the most exciting vessel.

But even from the Fars report, it's clear that Iran's real naval strategy is just an associated fleet of smaller speedboats.

Small speedboats, especially the kind prefered by cross-caribbean smugglers, can easily reach speeds of 90 mph or greater.

Iran's built a naval strategy around the small vehicles. Attacking larger ships with lots of small fast boats is a kind of asymettric warfare, and its a tactic Iran's refined over the past decade at least.

It’s unclear how the Nazeri fits into this larger speedboat-heavy strategy. Fars boasts of the Nazeri’s long range, which is not a feature especially relevant to patrolling the nearby Persian gulf, nor the narrow Strait of Hormuz.