Wednesday, 4 January 2012

January 4th - On This Date

1913 E4 Submarine HMS E4 completed
1915 HMS C31 C31 sailed from Dover to patrol off Zeebrugge. The submarine was due to arrive at Harwich on 7th January, which she failed to do. No further contact was made and a search conducted by the Destroyers Lercher and Firedrake and the Royal Navy Air Service failed to locate the submarine or any survivors.
1942 HMS Thunderbolt HMS Thunderbolt sinks the Italian auxiliary minesweeper R 195/Nuovo San Pietro with gunfire west off Keffalonia Island, Greece.
1942 Upholder HMS Upholder torpedoed and damaged the Italian steamer Sirio 4 nautical miles north-west of Cefalú, Sicily.
1945 HMS Rorqual HMS Rorqual lays 10 mines (minefield ML 023) off Phuket, Siam. These mines were laid from the torpedo tubes.
January 4th - On This Date

1913 E4 Submarine HMS E4 completed
1915 HMS C31 C31 sailed from Dover to patrol off Zeebrugge. The submarine was due to arrive at Harwich on 7th January, which she failed to do. No further contact was made and a search conducted by the Destroyers Lercher and Firedrake and the Royal Navy Air Service failed to locate the submarine or any survivors.
1942 HMS Thunderbolt HMS Thunderbolt sinks the Italian auxiliary minesweeper R 195/Nuovo San Pietro with gunfire west off Keffalonia Island, Greece.
1942 Upholder HMS Upholder torpedoed and damaged the Italian steamer Sirio 4 nautical miles north-west of Cefalú, Sicily.
1945 HMS Rorqual HMS Rorqual lays 10 mines (minefield ML 023) off Phuket, Siam. These mines were laid from the torpedo tubes.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Iran WILL attack US Navy without Warning

‘Iran will not repeat its warning’ to U.S. if Navy moves into Persian Gulf: Tehran

Iranian military personnel place a national flag on a submarine during the "Velayat-90" navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran on January 3, 2012, the End day of ten-day war games. Iran's military warned one of the US navy's biggest aircraft carriers to keep away from the Gulf, in an escalating showdown over Tehran's nuclear drive that could pitch into armed confrontation.
 
TEHRAN — Iran threatened Tuesday to take action if the U.S. Navy moves an aircraft carrier into the Gulf, Tehran’s most aggressive statement yet after weeks of sabre-rattling as new U.S. and EU financial sanctions take a toll on its economy.

The prospect of sanctions targeting the oil sector in a serious way for the first time has hit Iran’s rial currency, which has fallen by 40% against the dollar in the past month.

Queues formed at banks and some currency exchange offices shut their doors as Iranians scrambled to buy dollars to protect their savings from the currency’s fall.

Army chief Ataollah Salehi said the United States had moved an aircraft carrier out of the Gulf from because of Iran’s naval exercises, and Iran would take action if the ship returned.

It did not name the carrier, but the USS John C Stennis leads a task force in the region, and the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet website pictured it in the Arabian Sea last week.

“Iran will not repeat its warning … the enemy’s carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf,” army chief Salehi said.

“I advise, recommend and warn them over the return of this carrier to the Persian Gulf because we are not in the habit of warning more than once.”

Lieutenant Rebecca Rebarich, spokeswoman for the U.S. 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, said she was not immediately able to respond.

Tehran’s threat comes at a time when sanctions are having an unprecedented impact on its economy, and the country faces political uncertainty with an election in March, its first since a 2009 vote that triggered countrywide demonstrations.

The West has imposed the increasingly tight sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran says is strictly peaceful but Western countries believe aims to build an atomic bomb.

After years of sanctions that had little impact, the latest measures are the first that could have a serious effect on Iran’s oil trade, 60 percent of its economy.

New sanctions signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama on New Year’s Eve would cut off any financial institutions that work with Iran’s central bank from the U.S. financial system, blocking the main path for payments for Iranian oil.

The EU is expected to impose new sanctions by the end of this month, possibly including a ban on oil imports.

Even Iran’s top trading partner China — which has refused to back new global sanctions against Iran — is demanding discounts to buy Iranian oil as Tehran’s options narrow. Beijing has cut its imports of Iranian crude by more than half for January and, paying premiums for crude from Russia and Vietnam to replace it.

THREATS
Iran has responded to the tighter measures with increasingly belligerent rhetoric.
It spooked oil markets briefly when it announced last month it could prevent shipping through the Straight of Hormuz — a narrow shipping lane through which flows 40% of the world’s oil trade – if sanctions hurt its own oil business.

It then held 10 days of naval exercises in the Gulf, test firing long range missiles that could hit Israel or U.S. bases in the Middle East. But Tuesday’s apparent threat to take action against the U.S. military for sailing in international waters takes the aggressive rhetoric to a new level.

The new U.S. sanctions law, if implemented fully, would make it impossible for many refineries to pay Iran for crude. It imposes measures gradually and allows Obama to offer temporary waivers to prevent an oil price shock.

The European Union is expected to consider new measures by the end of this month, possibly including a blockade. EU members such as such as crisis-hit Greece are still buyers of Iranian oil, which trades at a discount.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Paris wants new measures taken by January 30, when EU foreign ministers meet.

“France … wants sanctions toughened and the president [Nicolas Sarkozy] has made two concrete proposals on that front – the first being the freezing of Iranian central bank assets, a tough measure, and the second an embargo on Iranian oil exports,” Juppe told i>tele, a French TV channel.
Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said member states would discuss the issue this week in the hope of reaching an agreement on new steps before the January 30 meeting.

“The ball is still in the Iranians’ court,” he said.
Although China, India and other countries are unlikely to sign up to any oil embargo, they will be able to insist on deeper discounts, potentially reducing the income Tehran receives from oil.

Beijing has been driving a hard bargain. China, which bought 11% of its oil from Iran during the first 11 months of last year, has cut its January purchase by about 285,000 barrels per day, more than half of the close to 550,000 bpd that it bought through a 2011 contract.

The impact of falling government income from oil sales can be felt on the streets in Iran in soaring prices for state subsidized goods and a falling rial currency.

Some exchange offices in Tehran, when contacted by Reuters, said there was no trading taking place until further notice.

“The rate is changing every second … We are not taking in any rials to change to dollars or any other foreign currency,” said Hamid Bakshi in central Tehran.

Housewife Zohreh Ghobadi, waiting in a long line at a bank, said she was trying to withdraw her savings and change it into dollars.

Iranian authorities played down any link between the souring exchange rate and the imposition of the new sanctions.

“The new American sanctions have not materialized yet,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news conference Tuesday. “It will take a few months until these sanctions are fully implemented.”

The economic impact is being felt ahead of a nationwide parliamentary election on March 2, the first vote since a disputed 2009 presidential election that led to the worst unrest since Iran’s 1979 revolution.

Submarine’s torpedo compartment was on fire

Submarine’s torpedo compartment was on fire

Revealing photos of the nuclear powered submarine “Yekaterinburg” from before and during last week’s fire clearly indicate that the flames come from inside the torpedo-compartment.

A photo taken of “Yekaterinburg” in the floating dock in Roslyakova before the fire started on December 29th shows a large cut in the hull on the port side of the submarine. The hull is near the front bow, the part where the torpedo compartment is located.

A large cut in the hull in the torpedo compartment of the submarine before the fire started.

A second photo, , shows that the massive flames are coming out from the same cut in the hull. Blogger51 is a portal in Murmansk well known for posting information you normally don’t find in other Russian media.


Massive flames coming out of the cut in the hull on the port side of the submarine. 

A third photo, taken after the fire was finally extinguished after 20 hours, shows that not much of the acoustic rubber coating on the surface of the submarine hull is damaged by the fire. The images contradict earlier statements that the fire stroked the outer hull.

Northern fleet spokesman Capt. 1st rank Vadim Serga told RIA Novosti that the wooden scaffolding around the submarine caught fire, which spread to the submarine’s outer hull.

Unable to say who provided images he says  …this was shocking, I earlier incorrectly suggested that the markings on the front end came from an external fire, but here it is clear that the fairing was damaged from inside. Concerning the rubber coating, on the junction on the right side are not as many burned fragments of rubber coating, as dismantled ones.

The fire and the reasons for the fire are a hot topic in social media like Facebook, Vkontakte and Twitter in the Murmansk region.

The question many ask is; why was there a large cut in the hull of the submarine’s torpedo compartment? What combustible material inside the hull made such large flames over such long period and why was it so difficult to extinguish the fire?

Submarine experts say the investigators appointed to look into the cause of the fire have many good questions to answers. As BarentsObserver reported on Monday, President Dmitri Medvedev has instructed Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to conduct a thorough investigation to find good answers to what happened with “Yekaterinburg” last Thursday.

China's pearls unstrung (for now) - Part 1

China's Pearls Unstrung

China's "string of pearls" consists of port and airfield construction projects, diplomatic ties and force modernization. These "pearls" range from the coast of mainland China to the recently upgraded military facilities on Hainan Island, China's southernmost territory.

They extend through the South China Sea to the Strait of Malacca, over to the Indian Ocean and along the coast of the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. They include an airstrip on Woody Island in the Paracel archipelago east of Vietnam. A container shipping facility in Chittagong, Bangladesh, a deep-water port in Sittwe, Myanmar, and a potential naval base in Gwadar, Pakistan are also "pearls", all of them representing Chinese geopolitical influence or military presence.

Ever since the introduction of the string of pearls theory in 2004 by Booz Allen, it has been controversial and debatable. According to a 2011 Congressional Research Office report, China might be building, or may want to eventually build, a series of naval and other military bases in the Indian Ocean to support Chinese naval operations along the Sea Lane of Communications (SLOCs) linking China to Persian Gulf oil sources.

On the other hand, China is building commercial port facilities in the Indian Ocean and has not yet established any naval bases there, instead pursuing what US officials call a "places not bases" strategy. In The Military Balance 2011 by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a retired Chinese naval officer suggested that the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN, or PLA Navy) could set up China's first permanent overseas base in an unspecified location in the Middle East. The Chinese Ministry of National Defense subsequently distanced itself from these comments, stating that it has no plans for an overseas naval base.

Although it remains to be seen whether the string of pearls is real, the perceived pearls and provocative discourse from a hawkish Chinese navy unsettle the region. Indians, for instance, fear that China is surrounding their country with ports. Even though these deep sea ports are ostensibly for trade, China "could call them in for military or strategic purposes if oil becomes scarce."
Popular as it might be, the string of pearls theory is a more a matter of speculation than hard reality. For one, commercial ports do not necessarily lead to naval bases. The Diplomat writes that according to conventional wisdom, "China will settle for access to 'places, not bases' in the Indian Ocean. Beijing is negotiating agreements that grant Chinese vessels the right to call at ports like Gwadar, Hambantota, and Chittagong to rest, refuel, and perhaps refit. China entertains little desire for a wholly-owned base network."

Fear for the string of pearls also masks the reality that China has yet to achieve the capability to turn these ports into naval bases. Visiting Gwadar for a week in 2008, defense expert Robert Kaplan "was struck not only by how isolated it was, between pounding sea and bleak desert, but how unstable was the region of Balochistan, which lies immediately beyond the port in all landward directions".
According to Kaplan, the security situation is fraught with peril and a pipeline network from Gwadar into Central Asia and China must await the political stabilization of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Until such a day, Gwadar, although a potentially useful coaling station for a budding Chinese navy, remains "a road to nowhere". For the time being, the string of pearls is more a Chinese dream (or the rest of the world's nightmare) instead of reality.

Nevertheless, as The Diplomat put it, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." The string of pearls might not be real now, yet that does not guarantee China will not build naval bases in the future. Nor should it overshadow the larger picture of China's long-term modernization of its naval capabilities.

The string of pearls theory, real or not, raises the question: how much has China's naval capability improved and what implications does it have on China's neighbors and the United States? It is not the validity of the string of pearls that matters, but the projection of Chinese naval capability and the rationale behind it that counts.

China's naval capabilities

Historically, the development of China's navy lags behind that of the army. According to a report by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), in the early years of the People's Republic of China, defense was shaped to contend with perceived threats that were predominantly continental.

Until recently, China lacked the technical and industrial capacity to build a modern navy. Starting from the 1990s, China kicked off its naval modernization effort by acquiring a range of new weapons including anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), submarines and surface ships. China is also developing the world's first anti-ship ballistic missile, a system specifically designed to defeat US carrier strike groups. To quote the ONI report, "China's military modernization program has brought a range of new capabilities to the PLA Navy."

The PLA Navy has the largest force of principal combatants, submarines and amphibious warfare ships in Asia, excluding the United States. After years of neglect, the force of missile-armed patrol craft is also growing. According to the Pentagon's 2010 Annual Report to Congress, as of 2009, the PLA Navy Submarine Forces has a modernization rate of 50%, followed by its Air Defense Force (40%), Naval Surface Forces (roughly 25%), and Air Force (25%).

The navy's investment in platforms such as nuclear-powered submarines and progress toward its first aircraft carrier (a refurbished Russian Kuznetsov-class carrier) suggest China is seeking to support additional missions beyond a Taiwan contingency. The PLA Navy has also demonstrated the capability to conduct limited deployments of modern surface platforms outside the Taiwan Strait.
Meanwhile, it has acquired new classes of ships capable of supporting conventional military operations as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

As mentioned in the Department of Defense report, the PLA Navy's submarine forces have undergone the most substantial modernization. According to Jane's Fighting Ships 2010-2011, as of 2010, the cumulative total for all types of PLA Navy Submarine Commissioning is 42, including several nuclear-powered subs. China also has 27 guided missile destroyers. For a rough sense of comparison, Japan has nine while the United States has 61.

Even more impressive is China's development of Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles (ASBMs), which are theater-range ballistic missiles equipped with Maneuverable Reentry Vehicles (MaRVs) designed to hit moving ships at sea. The Pentagon believes that with its ASBM, China can attack aircraft carriers, other US Navy ships, or ships of allied or partner navies operating in the Western Pacific.

China's aircraft carrier has probably received the greatest media coverage, with observers speculating that China is planning to conduct future military operations far from its coastline. "Politically," writes Ronald O'Rourke for the Federation of American Scientists, "aircraft carriers could be particularly valuable to China for projecting an image of China as a major world power, because aircraft carriers are viewed by many as symbols of major world power status." Chinese aircraft carriers could also be used for humanitarian relief, anti-piracy operations, and to evacuate non-combatants.

As for China's naval aviation force, a RAND Corporation 2010 analysis reveals that its capabilities to conduct naval strike operations and defend naval bases against enemy air attack have improved: "Most significantly, the PLAN has acquired a squadron [ie 24] of Su-30 MK2s armed with the supersonic Kh-31A [AS-17A] air-to-surface missile." Not only has the hardware been upgraded, "the organization, doctrine and training to effectively employ" these aircraft have also improved.

According to the Pentagon, China's airborne early warning and control and aerial-refueling programs would permit extended air operations into the South China Sea. Advanced destroyers and submarines could protect and advance China's maritime interests, and improvements in China's command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, and surveillance and reconnaissance, including space-based and over-the-horizon sensors, could enable Beijing to identify, track, and target military activities deep into the western Pacific.

A recent New York Times article suggests that China is "increasing its maritime surveillance force to 15,000 people by 2020, up from 9,000 now" and that the navy "has been trying to grow its operational influence over civilian ships, which often patrol disputed territorial waters like the South China Sea".
China has claimed the entire South China Sea and, as columnist George Will put it, "seems increasingly inclined to define the oceans off its shores as extensions of the shores - territory to be owned and controlled like 'blue national soil', which is incompatible with the idea of the oceans as a 'common'." Although the United States and others consider the South China Sea an international waterway, China deems it as a "core interest". Just three weeks ago, China accused Vietnam of undermining its interests and rights within its waters following a spat involving a Vietnamese oil-drilling research boat in the South China Sea.

Consequently, China's aggressiveness creates an uneasy feeling among its neighbors. Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan have all complained of China's maritime actions and have sent ships or planes to back up their concerns.

At a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Hanoi, 12 Southeast Asian countries complained of Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared freedom of navigation within the South China Sea to be a national interest of the United States.

The Chinese responded by warning the US to stay out of the increasingly tense territorial disputes and maritime conflicts in the South China Sea. In response, China's neighbors have begun to increase their own capabilities.
January 3rd - On This Date

1940 Taku Submarine HMS Taku completed
1943 First Use Of Chariot A two-man submersible Chariot, based on a modified torpedo, succeeded in penetrating Palermo & sank the light cruiser Ulpio Traiano - the first such use of the device by the Royal Navy, which had copied it from the Italian Navy's Maiale that had been used to considerable effect against British shipping earlier in the war
1945 HMS Shakespeare HMS Shakespeare and the Japanese auxiliary minesweeper Wa 1 engage each other with gunfire off the Nancowry Strait, Nicobar Islands. Both ships are damaged in the engagement.
1945 HMS Rorqual HMS Rorqual lays 50 mines (minefield ML 022) off Phuket, Siam.
1986 HMS Triumph Ordered from Vickers, Barrow

Monday, 2 January 2012

Faslane, Russia and risks of hosting UK nuclear submarine fleet


There has been discussion relating to this issue in the comments to our earlier story on the recent and hilarious scare tactics on defence from former junior Defence Minister, Lord West. Also a former First Sea Lord,  the West comments were made as part of the campaign from Westminster to combat the possibility of Scottish independence.

There is – of course, a very great deal that the general public do not know and, in some cases, cannot know about defence matters.

We understand on good authority that, back in the early-to-mid 1970′s,  Russian ‘trawlers’ regularly laid mines in the Clyde. These were to be activated should UK submarines leave the Clyde in any emerging situation of conflict involving the then USSR.

On one occasion, at least, at that time, a Royal Navy team of clearance divers from Faslane spent three weeks clearing new Russian mines out of the Clyde.

Evidently the routines were a sort of game of threat – with the Russian ‘trawlers’ laying mines, the navy removing them , the ‘trawlers’ laying more….

While this was during the cold war, it would be naive to imagine that nations either with a grudge against the UK or preparing the means to neutralise this particular UK defence capability, should the need arise, would  not have similar plans today.

It would also be naive to imagine that Faslane – and Glen Douglas – are not on a shortlist of UK locations set to receive long range missiles at or before the start of any major conflict in which the UK might engage. Our peripheral monkeying around in stand offs with Iran, in the wake of the Americans as usual, is foolishly provocative and particularly so in the case if nation which has just admitted to recent tests of  long range missiles.

While one nuclear submarine is on station somewhere in international waters at all times, this news does mean that other submarines leaving Faslane on deployment at a time of conflict might not make it out of the Clyde – with the surrounding area taking the literal hit and the consequent radioactivity from damage to the ships’ reactor cores and warheads.

It is interesting to note that with the loss of the UK’s aircraft carriers and their aircraft to defence cuts, there has been a noted resurgence of Russian naval activity in UK waters – particularly in Scottish waters.

On 13th December 2011, SKY News UK reported that the Royal Navy mounted an emergency scramble of a warship (yes, singular) and fighter jets in response to – guess what – a Russian aircraft carrier carrying around 12 fighter jets – off the east coast of Scotland.

The Type 42 destroyer, HMS York – had been dispatched from Portsmouth a week earlier and  found the  the Admiral Kuznetsov and her escorting ships north east of the Orkneys in the early hours of Monday, 12 December 2011. The carrier’s escort group consisted of a destroyer, two frigates, two tankers and an ocean-going tug.

The story was that the Russian ships  were on their way to the Mediterranean, off Syria, for exercises. The Russian Navy does have a base at Tartus in Syria – but the move was obviously a game and its purpose was clear – testing response times and saying ‘Look what we’ve got that you haven’t’.
The next day, 14th December, STV reported that this aircraft carrier, the 65,000-tonne Admiral Kuznetsov, with other Russian warships, had ‘taken shelter from severe weather ‘ 30 miles off the Moray Firth. This is in international waters.

HMS York, which was then shadowing the Russian fleet, saw sailors dumping black bags overboard – and this was confirmed by the Royal Navy. What was being dumped was thought to be waste – and presumably the York will have checked that – but the dumping of waste in plastic bags in environmentally irresponsible and a serious threat to marine life. It is also against international maritime pollution regulations. The Royal Navy reported the Russian action to the relevant authorities over these concerns. The regulation allows naval fleets to dump some waste, including food waste, overboard, but the use of plastic bags is not permitted.

We can probably expect to see more of such visible games around Scottish waters and with Argentina limbering up again on the issue of the Falkland Islands,  where we are indeed now prospecting for oil and minerals, these are not going to be easy times.

Bag stashed since WWII found on Manitowoc

A leather toiletry bag hidden on the USS Cobia submarine since World War II recently was found by maintenance supervisor Paul Rutherford of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc. The bag yielded a small red cloth bag, a rubber stamp, a “100 Cocktails” booklet and two poems, “Give Us a Drink” and “Navy Wife.”
MANITOWOC — Imagine Paul Rutherford's surprise when he was working aboard the USS Cobia and came across a bag that likely hadn't been touched by human hands since World War II.
Rutherford is maintenance supervisor for the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, where the submarine draws thousands of visitors each year.


The Cobia yielded its surprise to Rutherford on Dec. 21. He was on his back, squeezed into a tight space installing a protective cage around a light fixture above upper sleeping bunks in the after torpedo room.


"I had to take off the cover around the light fixture so I could use that to attach the cage to it," he said. "I realized I didn't bring the cages with me. I couldn't reach them and I didn't want to crawl down because it's a struggle, so I called for some help."


During the five minutes or so that he waited, his imagination went to work. He put himself in the mindset of a World War II submariner and wondered if one of them might have stashed something in a nearby nook.


"Wouldn't that be cool if I found something," he thought to himself.
Rutherford reached his hand above an electrical utility box behind the escape hatch.
And there it was. A brown leather zippered toiletry bag, flattened from being shoved into a 2- to 3-inch-high space more than 60 years ago.


"So I pulled it out," he said. "There was actually a lot of dust on it and one edge was spray-painted white," likely from remodeling during the '60s or '70s before the museum acquired the submarine, he said.


Rutherford waited until he finished his work and shimmied out of the tight space to see what was inside.

The bag yielded up a small empty red corduroy pouch, a rubber stamp with a seaman's name, a "100 Cocktails" booklet, and two poems, "Give Us a Drink" and "Navy Wife."

"That thing had definitely been up there longer than I've been alive," said Rutherford, 47. "If I wouldn't have forgotten to bring the cages with me, I would have never have found these items."
Using the rubber stamp as her guide, Karen Duvalle, submarine curator, consulted crew records and identified the objects as being from Seaman First Class Hersey J. Williams, who served aboard the USS Cobia on the submarine's fourth war patrol, which departed from Perth, Australia, on Dec. 12, 1945.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Iranian Website: This Is How We'll Close Strait of Hormuz



In response to threats by Western countries to impose oil sanctions on Iran, the Iranian website Mashreq News, which is close to Iranian military circles, posted an article on December 15, 2011 outlining military measures that could be taken by Tehran to close the Strait of Hormuz should the regime choose to do so.
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The article enumerated the forces and weapons that Iran could employ in such a military operation, including fast attack craft carrying anti-ship missiles; submarines; battleships; cruise and ballistic missiles; bombers carrying laser-, radar- and optically-guided missiles; helicopters; armed drones; hovercraft; and artillery.
It stated that despite Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's statements that Tehran would not initiate a military confrontation but would retaliate harshly if attacked, "there is no guarantee that [Tehran] will not launch a preemptory strike on the civilian level, for instance through cyber-warfare or by means of economic pressure, including by closing the Strait of Hormuz and cutting off [this] energy lifeline for an indefinite period of time." It added, "Should additional sanctions be imposed on Iran, especially in the domain of oil export, Iran might keep [its] oil from leaving its territorial waters."
In a further threat, the article stated that Iran would in the future be able to attack the 480-km pipeline with a capacity of 2.5 million barrels/day[1] that the UAE is planning to build in order to bypass the Strait of Hormuz in order to neutralize Iran's ability to disrupt the world's oil supply: "As for the plan... to construct a [pipeline] from the UAE that will be an alternative in times of emergency in case the Hormuz Strait is closed, we should note... that the entire territory of the UAE is within range of Iran's missiles, [so Iran] will easily be able to undermine security at the opening of this [pipeline] using weapons to be discussed this report."
In accordance with Iranian doctrine, the article pointed out that these weapons would actually not be necessary because there would be suicide operations, and added that "the faith of the Iranian youth, and their eagerness to sacrifice their lives, will sap the enemies' courage."
Despite statements by Iranian government spokesmen, including Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi and Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, that the closing of the strait is not currently on Iran's agenda,[2] Majlis National Security Committee member Pervez Sarouri said that the Iran would be conducting 10 days of  naval maneuvers, called "Velayat 90," beginning December 24, 2011, to drill closing it.[3]
Satellite_view_of_the_Strait_of_Hormuz_connecting_the_Persian_Gulf_to_the_Sea_of_Oman
Satellite view of the Strait of Hormuz connecting the Persian Gulf to the Sea of Oman
Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari, who is close to Khamenei, called on the regime to announce immediately that Tehran would close the strait to vessels  from the U.S., Europe, Japan, or any other country participating in imposing oil sanctions on Iran.[4]
At a press conference on the subject of the Velayat 90 naval maneuvers, which commenced on December 24, Iranian Navy Commander Habibollah Sayyari said that his forces would be capable of closing the strait if asked to do so.[5]
It should be noted that Iranian officials have previously threatened to close the strait as a means of deterring Iran's neighbors and the West (see previous MEMRI reports from 2010, 2008 and 2007).[6]
The following are the main points of the Mashreq News article on closing the Strait of Hormuz.[7]
Fast Attack Craft
The article stated that since it first introduced fast attack craft  for use in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), the Iranian navy has immeasurably improved the craft's "ability to face advanced enemy combat vessels, much less cargo ships. These boats are equipped with sea radar systems; advanced electronic communication systems; sea-to-sea cruise missiles, both short-range – 25 km – and medium range; medium- and large-caliber [sic] torpedoes; and naval mines, along with traditional means of warfare – including semi-heavy machine guns, missile launchers, and shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. These sea craft are capable of blocking the Strait [of Hormuz] for a brief or an extended period, and of facing enemy warships trying to open the route.
Iranian_Fast_Attack_Boats"In addition to their high speed and abovementioned equipment, these sea craft are highly maneuverable. Their ability to operate at night, aided by the requisite accessories, as well as in stormy weather, has been demonstrated repeatedly in recent years, in maneuvers both minor and major. Their successful record includes stopping submarines from countries beyond the [Gulf] region that aimed to cross the Strait of Hormuz, and supporting [Iranian] submarines threatened by enemy warships in the Indian Ocean... Iran has various types of naval mines, both stationary and remote controlled. This weapon [i.e. the mines] may, if necessary, be operated by Iranian boats and submarines [located at] various points in the Strait of Hormuz and the surrounding waters."
Submarines
The article continued: "The Iranian navy's acquisition of submarines... some 20 in number... has rendered it more powerful than the navies of the [other] countries in the region. Iran's submarine craft can use torpedoes, mines, and missiles, and can remain submerged for weeks in order to accomplish a mission. Apart from the Russian Kilo class submarines, the Nahang, Ghadir, and Fateh class submarines have been pre-fitted for the waters around Iran, especially the Persian Gulf... These submarines can remain stationary in the water and can evade various enemy radar and sonar systems...
"The Kilo class submarines can carry 24 mines or 18 large torpedoes, while the Fateh class submarines can carry 12 torpedoes and/or eight mines. In addition, there have been reports in the international media stating that Iran has equipped the Kilo class [submarines in its fleet] with Hoot torpedoes...
"The Ghadir class submarines can also successfully participate in the operation [to close the strait]... [These] are small submarines manned by one or several people. Known as 'wet submarines,' they are used for commando operations, laying mines, and firing torpedoes... and can operate in narrow and shallow areas."
Warships
The article stated that "Iran has various classes of missile ships, warships, and destroyers. These marine craft are capable of launching four 'Nour' anti-ship missiles, which have a range of 120-170 km, [even] over 200 km. Additionally, these warships' 114mm and 76mm guns... can threaten various [types of] ships. [Iran's] warships can [also] threaten submarines while simultaneously operating together with the rest of the [Iranian naval] force in closing the Strait of Hormuz."
Iranian_Warships
Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles
It continued: "We divide Iran's missile force into two groups: cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. They possess a wide variety of ranges and destructive capabilities. Coastal launchers for Kowsar short-range missiles and for Nour and Ghadir missiles [with a range of some 200 km] have so far been displayed, and the Naser-1 medium-range missiles are launched from Qare'a triple-barrel missile launchers. These launchers are independent, meaning that if they are deployed near the coast, they could detect and identify naval targets and attack them without the need for supporting systems from [Iranian] air and naval units.
Iranian_Cruise_Missiles
"These systems can cover most of the Strait of Hormuz if deployed and camouflaged 70 to 150 km deep into Iranian territory, or even in the Kerman province [in southeastern Iran]. The Iranian armed forces possess these systems in abundance, and they are ready for deployment."
Ballistic Missiles
The article noted: "...Thus far, three types of anti-ship ballistic missiles have been displayed in Iran: Khaleej-e Fars, Tondar, and Sejil. Khaleej-e Fars missiles, with a 300-km range and a 650-kg warhead, are designed to destroy enemy warships. The missile can be prepared for launch in a few minutes due to its use of solid fuel and advanced guidance systems. It strikes the enemy ships from above, traveling at Mach 3, reaching [the target] in a short time and at an acute angle.
Iranian_Triple_Barrel_Missile
"The triple-barrel launcher for these missiles provides sufficient firepower from the first launch; it increases the operational effect of the missile, while decreasing the enemy's ability to retaliate. Based on photos of the missile, it uses an electronic guidance system, which ensures its effectiveness even against the enemy's electronic warfare. The missile's speed, angle of approach, and impact from above are effective points in its modus operandi. We can estimate that the enemy's chances of intercepting it are miniscule.
"The Tondar missile, whose range is estimated by experts to be 150-250 kilometers, operates alongside the Khaleej-e Fars missiles as a short range ballistic missile... and their combined operation can significantly raise the chances of hitting the target... The [Tondar] missile can cover the Straits of Hormuz from deep inside Iranian territory. The Khaleej-e Fars missile can cover the Western Sistan-Baluchestan area, the Kerman province area, eastern and southern Fars province, and all of the Straits of Hormuz."
Persian_Gulf_Map
"The most terrifying of all Iranian missiles is the Sejil long range missile. It has commonly been considered merely a surface-to-surface missile, but the armed forces recently announced that it can also be used to destroy naval targets. Although not much is known about the missile's guidance and targeting systems, the missile has shown great accuracy in hitting a predetermined target. This missile, with a range of 2,000 km, can reach speeds of Mach 8 to Mach 12 (2,700-4,100 meters per second)... Its warhead weighs at least 500 kilograms, helping it to destroy the target. This missile can be used to cover regions beyond the Strait of Hormuz even if deployed on the northern Iranian coast, or at the most distant point in northwest Iran. It is a two-stage rocket powered by solid fuel, and reaches great speed at the end of the first stage [of launch]. It is difficult for the enemy to detect and track it during the first stage, because it uses several methods to reduce its radar signature... Thanks to its high velocity, the chance of it being hit by enemy defense [systems] is even smaller than the chance that they will hit a Khaleej-e Fars missile.
"Such missiles would be launched from deep inside Iranian territory because scattering launchers over a larger area will make it difficult for the enemy to detect them, will limit the means the enemy will be able to use to destroy them, and will also allow the launchers to be relocated and re-camouflaged.
"Although the enemy is much more likely to detect lower-velocity missiles... the combination of the use of these weapons in areas both closer and farther away from the shore and the increased number of targets... can maintain their effectiveness."
Bomber Jets
The article stated: "Iranian fighter jets can carry various types of air-to-surface missiles that can operate against naval targets, including air-to-surface missiles with optical, laser, and radar guidance; Nour and Ghadir missiles adapted for aerial use; C-801K and C-802 missiles; as well as Kowsar and Naser missiles. [Iranian] Air Force jets can carry up to five such missiles.
Iranian_Bomber_Jets
"Additional missiles for naval targets include: limited range TV-guided Maverick missiles; Qassad-1 and Qassad-2 optically guided bombs with a range of 30-50 kilometers (Qassad-3 bombs, with a range over 100 kilometers, will become operational soon); and Russian-made KH-25 and KH-29 missiles with laser and optical guidance, which can be mounted on Su-24, Su-25, and MiG-29 jets. Their range is 10km-30km, and they have medium destructive capabilities.
"In addition, KH-58 long-range anti-radar missiles, which can be mounted on Su-24 jets for attacks on enemy warships, will play an important role in closing the Strait of Hormuz.
"The array of missiles and bombs with varying ranges will assist Iran in operating remotely against enemy frigates and warships."
Helicopters
"The Shahed 285 helicopter can carry Kowsar anti-ship cruise missiles, and Mi-171 helicopters can launch Nour long range missiles, and apparently Ghadir missiles as well. These helicopters, along with Cobra attack helicopters, can threaten merchant vessels and enemy warships."
Anti_Ship_Helicopters
Flying Boats
"Only one model of flying boat has thus far become operational in Iran. In fact, it is a new type of plane that can land on the water, and can be equipped with anti-ship missiles. This boat can take off from the water, from various points on Iran's coast, and can operate against enemy warships together with aerial defense."
Drones
"The Iranian army drones are used for anti-ship missions. The Karar drone can carry four Kowsar missiles. Due to its speed, the drone can increase the potential energy of the missiles and extend their range. The drone has a range of some 1,000 km; it is launched by a rocket, and when it reaches the correct range, it launches the missiles. Karar drones can carry dozens of missiles to the enemy warships.
"The Karar drone is made from materials that allow it to evade radar detection and get close to enemy vessels. Nevertheless, the drone can also use missiles like Naser-1, for large areas."
Iranian_Drone_and_Surface_to_Air_Missile
Artillery and Surface-to-Sea Rocket Systems
The article also claimed that Iranian security officials several times pointed out that guided bombs are actually being used against moving naval targets. It said that the range of Iranian artillery shells is over 40 km, and that they can be used to harm or destroy enemy ships. It added that during maneuvers, Iran had successfully utilized the Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rocket launchers against naval targets.
January 2nd - On This Date


1919 H27 Submarine HMS H27 completed
1945 Alcide Submarine HMS Alcide laid down
1942 HMS Thunderbolt HMS Thunderbolt torpedoes and damages the Italian merchant Anna Capano off Argostoli, Keffalonia Island, Greece.
January 1st - On This Date


1910 C37 Submarine HMS C37 launched
1914 E18 Submarine HMS E18 laid down
1915 E33 Submarine HMS E33 laid down
1915 E47 Submarine HMS E47 laid down
1917 K4 Submarine HMS K4 completed
1915 E48 Submarine HMS E48 laid down
1918 L57 Submarine HMS L57 laid down
1918 H52 Submarine HMS H52 laid down
1931 Sturgeon Submarine HMS Sturgeon laid down
1904 Umpire Submarine HMS Umpire laid down
1945 HMS Statesman HMS Statesman sinks fous small Japanese vessels with gunfire north-east of Sumatra.
1945 HMS Thorough HMS Thorough sinks a Japanese sailing vessel with gunfire of the west coast of Siam


In response to threats by Western countries to impose oil sanctions on Iran, the Iranian website Mashreq News, which is close to Iranian military circles, posted an article on December 15, 2011 outlining military measures that could be taken by Tehran to close the Strait of Hormuz should the regime choose to do so.

The article enumerated the forces and weapons that Iran could employ in such a military operation, including fast attack craft carrying anti-ship missiles; submarines; battleships; cruise and ballistic missiles; bombers carrying laser-, radar- and optically-guided missiles; helicopters; armed drones; hovercraft; and artillery.

It stated that despite Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's statements that Tehran would not initiate a military confrontation but would retaliate harshly if attacked, "there is no guarantee that [Tehran] will not launch a preemptory strike on the civilian level, for instance through cyber-warfare or by means of economic pressure, including by closing the Strait of Hormuz and cutting off [this] energy lifeline for an indefinite period of time." It added, "Should additional sanctions be imposed on Iran, especially in the domain of oil export, Iran might keep [its] oil from leaving its territorial waters."

In a further threat, the article stated that Iran would in the future be able to attack the 480-km pipeline with a capacity of 2.5 million barrels/day[1] that the UAE is planning to build in order to bypass the Strait of Hormuz in order to neutralize Iran's ability to disrupt the world's oil supply: "As for the plan... to construct a [pipeline] from the UAE that will be an alternative in times of emergency in case the Hormuz Strait is closed, we should note... that the entire territory of the UAE is within range of Iran's missiles, [so Iran] will easily be able to undermine security at the opening of this [pipeline] using weapons to be discussed this report."

In accordance with Iranian doctrine, the article pointed out that these weapons would actually not be necessary because there would be suicide operations, and added that "the faith of the Iranian youth, and their eagerness to sacrifice their lives, will sap the enemies' courage."

Despite statements by Iranian government spokesmen, including Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi and Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, that the closing of the strait is not currently on Iran's agenda,[2] Majlis National Security Committee member Pervez Sarouri said that the Iran would be conducting 10 days of  naval maneuvers, called "Velayat 90," beginning December 24, 2011, to drill closing it.[3]
Satellite_view_of_the_Strait_of_Hormuz_connecting_the_Persian_Gulf_to_the_Sea_of_Oman
Satellite view of the Strait of Hormuz connecting the Persian Gulf to the Sea of Oman

Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari, who is close to Khamenei, called on the regime to announce immediately that Tehran would close the strait to vessels  from the U.S., Europe, Japan, or any other country participating in imposing oil sanctions on Iran.[4]
At a press conference on the subject of the Velayat 90 naval maneuvers, which commenced on December 24, Iranian Navy Commander Habibollah Sayyari said that his forces would be capable of closing the strait if asked to do so.[5]

It should be noted that Iranian officials have previously threatened to close the strait as a means of deterring Iran's neighbors and the West (see previous MEMRI reports from 2010, 2008 and 2007).[6]
The following are the main points of the Mashreq News article on closing the Strait of Hormuz.[7]

Fast Attack Craft
The article stated that since it first introduced fast attack craft  for use in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), the Iranian navy has immeasurably improved the craft's "ability to face advanced enemy combat vessels, much less cargo ships. These boats are equipped with sea radar systems; advanced electronic communication systems; sea-to-sea cruise missiles, both short-range – 25 km – and medium range; medium- and large-caliber [sic] torpedoes; and naval mines, along with traditional means of warfare – including semi-heavy machine guns, missile launchers, and shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. These sea craft are capable of blocking the Strait [of Hormuz] for a brief or an extended period, and of facing enemy warships trying to open the route.

Iranian_Fast_Attack_Boats"In addition to their high speed and abovementioned equipment, these sea craft are highly maneuverable. Their ability to operate at night, aided by the requisite accessories, as well as in stormy weather, has been demonstrated repeatedly in recent years, in maneuvers both minor and major. Their successful record includes stopping submarines from countries beyond the [Gulf] region that aimed to cross the Strait of Hormuz, and supporting [Iranian] submarines threatened by enemy warships in the Indian Ocean... Iran has various types of naval mines, both stationary and remote controlled. This weapon [i.e. the mines] may, if necessary, be operated by Iranian boats and submarines [located at] various points in the Strait of Hormuz and the surrounding waters."

Submarines
The article continued: "The Iranian navy's acquisition of submarines... some 20 in number... has rendered it more powerful than the navies of the [other] countries in the region. Iran's submarine craft can use torpedoes, mines, and missiles, and can remain submerged for weeks in order to accomplish a mission. Apart from the Russian Kilo class submarines, the Nahang, Ghadir, and Fateh class submarines have been pre-fitted for the waters around Iran, especially the Persian Gulf... These submarines can remain stationary in the water and can evade various enemy radar and sonar systems...
"The Kilo class submarines can carry 24 mines or 18 large torpedoes, while the Fateh class submarines can carry 12 torpedoes and/or eight mines. In addition, there have been reports in the international media stating that Iran has equipped the Kilo class [submarines in its fleet] with Hoot torpedoes...

"The Ghadir class submarines can also successfully participate in the operation [to close the strait]... [These] are small submarines manned by one or several people. Known as 'wet submarines,' they are used for commando operations, laying mines, and firing torpedoes... and can operate in narrow and shallow areas."

Warships
The article stated that "Iran has various classes of missile ships, warships, and destroyers. These marine craft are capable of launching four 'Nour' anti-ship missiles, which have a range of 120-170 km, [even] over 200 km. Additionally, these warships' 114mm and 76mm guns... can threaten various [types of] ships. [Iran's] warships can [also] threaten submarines while simultaneously operating together with the rest of the [Iranian naval] force in closing the Strait of Hormuz."

Iranian_Warships
Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles
It continued: "We divide Iran's missile force into two groups: cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. They possess a wide variety of ranges and destructive capabilities. Coastal launchers for Kowsar short-range missiles and for Nour and Ghadir missiles [with a range of some 200 km] have so far been displayed, and the Naser-1 medium-range missiles are launched from Qare'a triple-barrel missile launchers. These launchers are independent, meaning that if they are deployed near the coast, they could detect and identify naval targets and attack them without the need for supporting systems from [Iranian] air and naval units.

Iranian_Cruise_Missiles
"These systems can cover most of the Strait of Hormuz if deployed and camouflaged 70 to 150 km deep into Iranian territory, or even in the Kerman province [in southeastern Iran]. The Iranian armed forces possess these systems in abundance, and they are ready for deployment."

Ballistic Missiles
The article noted: "...Thus far, three types of anti-ship ballistic missiles have been displayed in Iran: Khaleej-e Fars, Tondar, and Sejil. Khaleej-e Fars missiles, with a 300-km range and a 650-kg warhead, are designed to destroy enemy warships. The missile can be prepared for launch in a few minutes due to its use of solid fuel and advanced guidance systems. It strikes the enemy ships from above, traveling at Mach 3, reaching [the target] in a short time and at an acute angle.

Iranian_Triple_Barrel_Missile
"The triple-barrel launcher for these missiles provides sufficient firepower from the first launch; it increases the operational effect of the missile, while decreasing the enemy's ability to retaliate. Based on photos of the missile, it uses an electronic guidance system, which ensures its effectiveness even against the enemy's electronic warfare. The missile's speed, angle of approach, and impact from above are effective points in its modus operandi. We can estimate that the enemy's chances of intercepting it are miniscule.

"The Tondar missile, whose range is estimated by experts to be 150-250 kilometers, operates alongside the Khaleej-e Fars missiles as a short range ballistic missile... and their combined operation can significantly raise the chances of hitting the target... The [Tondar] missile can cover the Straits of Hormuz from deep inside Iranian territory. The Khaleej-e Fars missile can cover the Western Sistan-Baluchestan area, the Kerman province area, eastern and southern Fars province, and all of the Straits of Hormuz."

Persian_Gulf_Map 
"The most terrifying of all Iranian missiles is the Sejil long range missile. It has commonly been considered merely a surface-to-surface missile, but the armed forces recently announced that it can also be used to destroy naval targets. Although not much is known about the missile's guidance and targeting systems, the missile has shown great accuracy in hitting a predetermined target. This missile, with a range of 2,000 km, can reach speeds of Mach 8 to Mach 12 (2,700-4,100 meters per second)... Its warhead weighs at least 500 kilograms, helping it to destroy the target. This missile can be used to cover regions beyond the Strait of Hormuz even if deployed on the northern Iranian coast, or at the most distant point in northwest Iran. It is a two-stage rocket powered by solid fuel, and reaches great speed at the end of the first stage [of launch]. It is difficult for the enemy to detect and track it during the first stage, because it uses several methods to reduce its radar signature... Thanks to its high velocity, the chance of it being hit by enemy defense [systems] is even smaller than the chance that they will hit a Khaleej-e Fars missile.

"Such missiles would be launched from deep inside Iranian territory because scattering launchers over a larger area will make it difficult for the enemy to detect them, will limit the means the enemy will be able to use to destroy them, and will also allow the launchers to be relocated and re-camouflaged.

"Although the enemy is much more likely to detect lower-velocity missiles... the combination of the use of these weapons in areas both closer and farther away from the shore and the increased number of targets... can maintain their effectiveness."

Bomber Jets
The article stated: "Iranian fighter jets can carry various types of air-to-surface missiles that can operate against naval targets, including air-to-surface missiles with optical, laser, and radar guidance; Nour and Ghadir missiles adapted for aerial use; C-801K and C-802 missiles; as well as Kowsar and Naser missiles. [Iranian] Air Force jets can carry up to five such missiles.

Iranian_Bomber_Jets
"Additional missiles for naval targets include: limited range TV-guided Maverick missiles; Qassad-1 and Qassad-2 optically guided bombs with a range of 30-50 kilometers (Qassad-3 bombs, with a range over 100 kilometers, will become operational soon); and Russian-made KH-25 and KH-29 missiles with laser and optical guidance, which can be mounted on Su-24, Su-25, and MiG-29 jets. Their range is 10km-30km, and they have medium destructive capabilities.

"In addition, KH-58 long-range anti-radar missiles, which can be mounted on Su-24 jets for attacks on enemy warships, will play an important role in closing the Strait of Hormuz.

"The array of missiles and bombs with varying ranges will assist Iran in operating remotely against enemy frigates and warships."

Helicopters
"The Shahed 285 helicopter can carry Kowsar anti-ship cruise missiles, and Mi-171 helicopters can launch Nour long range missiles, and apparently Ghadir missiles as well. These helicopters, along with Cobra attack helicopters, can threaten merchant vessels and enemy warships."

Anti_Ship_Helicopters
Flying Boats
"Only one model of flying boat has thus far become operational in Iran. In fact, it is a new type of plane that can land on the water, and can be equipped with anti-ship missiles. This boat can take off from the water, from various points on Iran's coast, and can operate against enemy warships together with aerial defense."
Drones
"The Iranian army drones are used for anti-ship missions. The Karar drone can carry four Kowsar missiles. Due to its speed, the drone can increase the potential energy of the missiles and extend their range. The drone has a range of some 1,000 km; it is launched by a rocket, and when it reaches the correct range, it launches the missiles. Karar drones can carry dozens of missiles to the enemy warships.

"The Karar drone is made from materials that allow it to evade radar detection and get close to enemy vessels. Nevertheless, the drone can also use missiles like Naser-1, for large areas."
Iranian_Drone_and_Surface_to_Air_Missile
Artillery and Surface-to-Sea Rocket Systems
The article also claimed that Iranian security officials several times pointed out that guided bombs are actually being used against moving naval targets. It said that the range of Iranian artillery shells is over 40 km, and that they can be used to harm or destroy enemy ships. It added that during maneuvers, Iran had successfully utilized the Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rocket launchers against naval targets.