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Iranian Frigate Capsizes at the Pier

Sahand capsized
Via Iranian social media

Published Jul 7, 2024 10:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

Over the weekend, the Iranian Navy suffered a serious casualty in port at Bandar Abbas. The frigate IRIS Sahand capsized at her berth, and she was photographed resting more than 90 degrees listed over to port, halfway submerged. 

State-owned news outlet IRNA has confirmed the capsizing. In a brief statement, the agency said that the Sahand "lost its balance due to water ingress" while she was under repair alongside the wharf. Several people were reportedly injured and taken to the hospital. IRNA added that "the vessel is being returned to balance quickly." 

The Iran Shipbuilding & Offshore Industries Complex (ISOICO) claimed Sunday that it could be possible that Sahand will be repairable. Saltwater immersion is notoriously destructive to electronic systems, like the controls, weapons and automation systems found aboard a modern warship. When the Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad partially sank in 2018, she was recovered in one piece - but was scrapped due to the high cost of removing and replacing all of her saltwater-damaged mission systems. 

Sahand was a Moudge-class frigate built in 2018. At the time, she was a symbol of Iran's push to develop a fully indigenous naval industrial base and circumvent American sanctions. The vessel was capable of 30 knots, and could carry a combination of surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles. She was reportedly equipped with far more weaponry than the first-in-class vessel, Jamaran, while retaining the same hull shape. 

While unconfirmed, open-source intelligence discussions suggest that weight growth from recent weapon upgrades above the main deck could have reduced the vessel's stability. The vessel made a long voyage to St. Petersburg for Russia's annual naval parade in 2021, accompanied by a tanker; no difficulties were reported at the time. However, after her return to Iran, she was reportedly fitted with four more antiship missile launchers and five more SAM launchers on deck, along with new radar systems.

Sister ship IRIS Damavand sank in the Caspian in January 2018 after hitting a breakwater at the port of Bandar-e Anzali. 

The original IRIS Sahand (ex name Faramarz, F-74) was a British Alvand-class frigate, and it also sank. Sahand (F-74) was targeted by the U.S. Navy in retaliation for the mine damage to the frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts in April 1988. A series of Harpoon missile salvos destroyed Sahand (F-74), and after a magazine detonation, the frigate went down with the loss of 45 crewmembers.