The Iranian ship IRIN Alvand (F-71) is a light frigate that was originally built in Great Britain as the Vosper Mark V-class. Construction was handled by Vosper Thornycroft and she was formally launched in 1968 and commissioned in 1971. She became the lead ship in her class of four-strong with three of these vessels known to be in active service with the Iranian Navy today. She was originally named "Saam" and all four ships carried names from a Persian poetic opus but, after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, each were renamed after Iranian mountains. As far as navy warship frigates go, she is relatively small, displacing at approximately 1,100 tons standard. Better equipped to patrol "brown water" regions or protect coastal areas of interest, the Iranian Navy nonetheless utilizes her in "blue water" missions around the Persian Gulf.
The collection of four ships was originally known as the Saam (DE-12), Zaal (DE-14), Rostam (DE-16) and Faramarz (DE-18). Vosper Thornycroft was responsible for the Saam and Faramarz while Vickers undertook construction of the Alborz and Sabalan. The group later became the Alvand (F-71), Alborz (F-72), Sabalan (F-73) and Sahand (F-74). The latter three vessels were all launched in 1969.
As built, the Alvand was armed with 1 x Vickers 4.5-inch (114mm) Mark 8 main gun on her bow. The weapon sported a rate-of-fire of 25 rounds-per-minute with a range out to 12 nautical miles (22km). For close-in air defense, the boat was given 1 x twin Oerlikon 35mm/90 Anti-Aircraft (AA) gun mount and 2 x single-mounted Oerlikon 20mm GAM-B01AA guns. For close-in shore bombardment, there were 2 x 81mm mortars. Additional short-ranged defense was provided for by 2 x 12.7mm (.50 caliber) Browning heavy machine guns. In the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role she was outfitted with 1 x "Limbo" Mk 10 mortar and 2 x triple 12.75-inch torpedo tubes - one firing tube fitted to port and the other to starboard. The major anti-ship weapon of the time was the "Sea Killer" anti-ship missile (ASM) while the major anti-aircraft system became the "Sea Cat". However, these missile systems were eventually replaced and upgraded with 4 x Chinese C802 (YJ-2) series cruise missiles. Rearmed, the class became part of an internal push by the Iranian Navy to help control the waters in her Gulf region neighborhood.
During the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, Iran confronted the presence of the nearby US Navy in the Persian Gulf. The US was in the region to protect its neighboring interests and began armed escorts of Kuwaiti oil tankers. In 1988, an Iranian sea mine had exploded against the destroyer USS Roberts and blew a 15-foot hole in her side hull. Saved by her crew, the USS Roberts was returned to the United States for repairs. The US, however, retaliated during "Operation Praying Mantis" and sank the Sahand with laser-guided bombs (LGBs), cluster bombs and Harpoon anti-ship missiles from a pair of Grumman A-6E Intruders, lighting her on fire and ultimately forcing her ammunition magazines to explode. The ship sank Southwest of Larak Island in the Persian Gulf.
The Alvand was sent to Sri Lanka in 2010 to "show the flag" and carry members of the Islamic Republic to an anti-piracy meeting - this meeting also being attended by officials of the United States. On February 22nd, 2011, the Alvand was sent to the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal with the supply ship Kharg (431) on a voyage to Syria amidst all of the regional unrest spreading from Tunisia and into Egypt. The 33,000 ton supply vessel has 250 crewmembers and could carry three helicopters. The Canal crossing marked the first time the Iran Navy had been allowed to pass through the Suez since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Being allowed to enter Mediterranean Waters naturally concerned nearby Israel with the Israeli government feeling that the current Middle East turmoil and an emboldened Iran pressing her ships into new waters presents a high-level danger to Israel.
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
310 ft (94.49 m)
Width / Beam:
36 ft (10.97 m)
Height / Draught:
10.5 ft (3.20 m)
2 x Paxman Ventura diesel engines developing 3,800 horsepower; 2 x Rolls-Royce Olympus TM-3A gas turbine engines developing 46,000 shaft horsepower to 2 x propeller shafts.
39 kts (45 mph)
4,859 nm (5,592 miles; 8,999 km)
1 x 4.5-inch (114mm) Vickers Mark 8 main gun
4 x C-802 (YJ-2) anti-ship cruise missiles (replacing original Sea Killer and Sea Cat missile systems).
1 x 35mm Oerlikon 35mm/90 anti-aircraft gun in twin mounting.
2 x 20mm Oerlikon GAM-B01 anti-aircraft cannons in single mountings.
2 x 81mm mortars
1 x Limbo Mk 10 mortar
2 x 12.75-inch torpedo tubes
2 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns
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