Iran has upgraded its Navy, Germany’s Der Spiegel reports, though that’s relative to what preceded these recent improvements.
Two new hovercrafts and two new U-boats were revealed, and Defense Minister Ahmad Wahidi spoke of “enormous progress.” But a 2006 report revealed that at the time Iran possessed only three submarines and three frigates.
Compare this to the U.S’s fleet. The Fifth Fleet, which consists of more than 20 ships, including an aircraft carrier, a “Nimitz” class, which features escorts and several destroyers, cruisers and U boats, is stationed in Bahrain. Qatar is where the regional U.S. Central Command base is located as well as an Air Force base, from which it would only take a few minutes for air support to be mustered.
On the reverse side Iranian ships are over 30 years old, many dating back to before the Islamic revolution. Some of the older units were produced in the West, the three frigates for example, which the Shah bought from the UK. Obtaining replacement parts for these ships has proved difficult due to sanctions on Tehran because of its nuclear program.
In light of Iran’s vast inferiority, the Islamic Republic has made a virtue of necessity: Official doctrine has become “asymmetrical warfare” or unconventional forms of warfare such as strategic disruptions (shutting down the Straight of Hormuz) or guerrilla operations, according to Der Spiegel.