IRGC Takes Delivery of Warship Based on a Panamax Boxship

Shahid Mahdavi
Flight deck of the Shahid Mahdavi (Tasnim / CC BY 4.0)

Published Mar 12, 2023 4:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has taken delivery of a lightly-converted container ship, which it will deploy in service as an expeditionary base ship. 

Until recently, the newly-delivered Shahid Mahdavi was the IRISL container ship Sarvin. Sarvin (ex name Sarita, Dandle, Twelfth Ocean, Iran Isfahan) is a 23-year-old Panamax boxship with a nominal capacity of 3,300 TEU. She was transferred from the government-owned container line for use as a mobile logistics platform for military purposes and repainted in haze gray.

Shahid Mahdavi under conversion (Iranian social media) 

Shahid Mahdavi as delivered (Tasnim / CC BY 4.0)

The base ship idea has already been taken up by the Iranian Navy, which converted an Aframax tanker into the giant "forward base ship" Makran in 2021. At 105,000 dwt, the Makran ranks among the largest naval vessels in the world by tonnage. 

Not to be outdone, the IRGC is converting two Panamax boxships into base ships of its own. In January, photos analyzed by H.I. Sutton appear to indicate that one of these ships is being fitted with a giant, overhanging deck on her port side, potentially for use in launching attack drones - an Iranian specialty. 

However, a promotional video released last week (above) appear to show that the first of these vessels - Shahid Mahdavi - is a much less radical conversion than anticipated. Far from a flight deck, the Mahdavi retains the boxship's original pontoon hatch covers. Some hatches are marked as helicopter landing areas, and the deck aft of the wheelhouse has a set of missile launch tubes and twin speedboats, but otherwise the vessel resembles her former self. 

According to state outlet Tasnim, the Mahdavi is fitted with 3D radar, missile systems, antiship missiles and the Sevom Khordad truck-mounted air defense missile system, Iran's best medium-range SAM system.