Iran Accidentally Sinks Fake Aircraft Carrier In Wrong Place
The saga of Iran’s fake aircraft carrier, intended as a propaganda coup, is turning into an own goal for Iran. The Iranian Armed forces, particularly the IRGC-N (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy) delight in attacking the mock U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. It makes their war games more dramatic. And it may be intended to symbolize that they could, if called upon, sink an American carrier. The carrier itself, actually an elaborate target barge, is not intended to sink however. Instead it is reusable and has been symbolically ‘destroyed’ twice already. But now it really has sunk. And in very much the wrong place.
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The stricken carrier can be seen, capsized, in commercial satellite imagery. The dramatic view above has been shared by Aurora Intel and shows PLEIADES satellite imagery (material © CNES 2020, Distribution Airbus DS, all rights reserved. Acquired through ShadowBreak Intl). The image is taken from above, and shows that the carrier is listing at about 90 degrees. The starboard (right-hand) side is facing upwards. As you look at the image, the carrier was heading from right to left of the image when it succumbed to the waves.
It began to sink when it was being towed back to Bandar Abbas after being attacked. Sebastien Roblin wrote for Forbes on July 31 that the vessel was “listing steeply to one side, with nearly half of the flight deck submerged.” Since then the situation has deteriorated.
The carrier is very large, but still much smaller than the U.S. Navy super-carriers it is designed to represent. We know that it is designed to symbolize U.S. carriers because the mock aircraft have U.S. Navy markings painted into them. It was built in 2013-14 and then dramatically ‘destroyed’ during war games in February 2015. Recently it has been repaired in Bandar Abbas and towed back out to sea. It was then attacked again on July 28 as part of the ‘Prophet Mohammed 14th’ war games. It was circled by speed boats, likely including some of the 100 new vessels unveiled in June, and hit by missiles.
The location of the sinking will likely create a serious headache for the Iranian Navy and IRGC-N. It is just outside the harbor entrance to Bandar Abbas, near to the main approach channel.
The water there is approximately 45 ft. deep, which is shallow. This makes it worse for Iran because it cannot be left to sink. It is so shallow that other ships face a very real risk of catastrophic damage if they sail over it. In fact, at least as of a couple of days ago, it was partly above water. This is a serious shipping hazard.
So it will have to be salvaged. But the effort required, and time, will strain Iranian resources. Although Iran has recovered vessels and aircraft from the sea, it does not appear to have a serious salvage capability to call on. This may be why it appears abandoned in the satellite imagery. Last year Iran did recover substantial parts of the U.S. Navy Global Hawk drone it shot down. But there are serious doubts as to whether any of this was salvaged from the depths. Floating wreckage is one thing, dismantling a sunken aircraft carrier is another.
With such a bad place to have a wreck, it will be telling of Iranian capabilities if it is left there a long time.
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