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Iran enlarges its Naval presence beyond territorial waters by means of submarines

In mid-February 2011 Iran detached for a first time a Naval formation composed of the UK-built frigate Alvand and the support ship Kharg into the Mediterranean Sea through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, to demon-strate Naval presence there up to one year far beyond home waters, as the Iranian Navy stated. In June 2011 the media reported another detachment of Iranian Naval units into the Red Sea, allegedly a formation of “several submarines” plus a support ship, however, no further details were given yet. According to the Iranian news agency FARS the formation of the 14th Iranian Fleet (Part of it: The frigate Shahid Naqdi and the support ship Bandar Abbas) executed exercises off the coast of Jemen in May 2011, to be followed by submarines of that formation further proceeding into the Red Sea, to carry out a “reconnaissance mission” against other Navies and to “explore” the hydrographic conditions in the international waters of the Red Sea.

This seems to be another step of the Iranian intent to further build up its Navy and to establish a permanent oceanic Naval presence outside the Arabian Gulf. The passage of the Iranian Naval formation through the Suez Canal in February 2011 was permitted by the new Egyptian leadership, which wants to improve its relations to the Iran, was met, however, with strong protests by Israel, which spoke of a “provocation”.

Currently, the Navy of Iran experiences a significant build up, in 2010 the 1,400 t frigate Jamaran (also: Dschamaran) was introduced, this is a first major vessel constructed domestically (the Iranians classify it even as “destroyer”). The Navy has also several submarines in its inventory: After the acquisition of 3 “Kilo”-Class submarines from Russia in 1993, allegedly some 8-10 smaller submarines of the “Ghadir”-Class (Iranian reproduction of the North Korean type “Yugo”, displacement about 100 t, length about 20 m, 2 torpedo tubes) were build since 2005 and commissioned since 2007. Since 2007 media reports tell of another submarine construction program in progress: The 500 t type “Kaem” (Also: “Qaeem”) submarine, the first one to be commissioned in 2012. Pictures of the Iranian submarines can be viewed at SPIEGEL Online and Marineforum 08/2010.


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After all, 6 Type 214 submarines for Greece

According to media reports of June 2011 the open points about the construction program of the German HDW export class submarines Type 214 for Greece seem to have been settled “in principle”. Allegedly, agreement has been reached to complete the program, that was launched in 2000 and was to see the construction of some 6 submarines of that type with air independent propulsion (AIP) for the Hellenic Navy.

The contract between HDW and Greece to build three submarines of the export class 214 for the Hellenic Navy was signed on 15 February 2000, a fourth submarines was ordered in 2002. The First of Class submarine of the series (Project “Archimedes”) was build at HDW Kiel, Germany, the three further submarines were build at the subsidiary of HDW´s mother group ThyssenKrupp, the “Hellenic Shipyard (HSY”) at Skaramagdas, close to Athens, Greece.

The program suffered from considerable delays due to technical, financial and general business problems, ran-ging from Greece´s temporary refusal to accept the delivery of the first submarine at HDW on reasons of allegedly not meeting agreed performance data, to change of the majority share holding to Arabian owners in 2010, to superimposing the building contract through another project of modernizing (integration of AIP) 3 of the 8 Greek Type 209 submarines at HSY (Project “Neptune II”), to the impact of the Greece budget troubles, to finally dealing with severe accusations of bribery within the 2.85 Billion Euros project.

Meanwhile, the first 4 submarines of the series have been built. Following years of a legal battle about alleged shortcomings in performance HS Papanikolos (S-120) was taken over eventually by the Hellenic Navy on 10 November 2010 and commissioned as the First of Class, although she was launched already as early as 22nd of April 2004. Also, the three other submarines build in Greece, Pipinos (S-121), Matiozos (S-122) and Katsonis (S-123), are all undergoing sea trials and final fit. Also, the other project of the total package, the modernization of Greek Type 209 submarines, seem to have been transferred successfully into a new comprehensive business solution, through refraining from refitting the Type 209 boats in favor of building a fifth and sixth Type 214 submarine. In light of the current Greek budget problems, media report unanimously of deliberations to put some of the new submarines straight away on the market for sale.

These Type 214 submarines have a length of 65 m, a beam of 6.3 m and a draught of 6 m, their displacement is about 1,700 t surfaced and 1,930 t submerged. Their AIP (The submarines have additionally 2×335 HP auxiliary Diesel engines on board) allows speeds of some 12 kn surfaced and 20 kn submerged, operational diving depth is reported to be up to 400 m. There are 8 torpedo tubes and the complement comprises some 27 sailors. Pictures from the Greek submarine at HDW can be viewed at Wikipedia.


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