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Iran Carrier Mockup Anchored off Bandar Abbas

July 24, 2015

By Chris Biggers

DG (13JUN15) Bandar Abbas Mockup

Prior to signing the historic nuclear deal between the EU3+3 and Iran earlier this month, Iran’s propaganda piece, a mock-up of a U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, was moved outside the harbor of Bandar Abbas.

Satellite imagery acquired by DigitalGlobe in June shows the mockup floating west of the peninsular breakwaters at the Iranian naval base. The mockup was used in the Great Prophet 9 exercise earlier this year to demonstrate Iran’s resolve in closing the Strait of Hormuz.

Imagery shows that it had been towed away from its berthing position (27.141731 56.201896) in late May where it was observed during mobilization in January and after exercises in March.

The latest space snapshots also confirmed that the “floating barge” had not been repaired at the time of capture. Damage was still visible to the deck and the mock-up control tower.

While it’s still difficult to determine what Iran has in-store for the mock-up, its future use may be limited. The much heralded Iranian nuclear deal could signal a change in US-Iran relations. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani emphasized that the agreement begins “a new chapter” and if carried out correctly could “gradually eliminate distrust.” Such sentiments were echoed by President Obama when he noted: “This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it.”

On the surface, the agreement could potentially tone down Iran’s signaling of an all-out confrontation between the two countries’ naval forces. However, with skeptics and detractors in both countries remaining hostile to the agreement, it may be too early to say.

After 20 months of negotiations, hardliners still believe the agreement has made their countries less secure. The American GOP calls it a “diplomatic failure,” “deeply flawed” and a “historic mistake.” In Iran, the IRGC criticizes the deal as violating Iran’s redlines (even though it potentially improves their grip on the economy).

All of which could suggest that this shitty (ahem, low fidelity) mockup may yet have some role to play. The true test will be after it returns to the ISOICO shipyard.

To dismantle or repair, that remains the question.

Chris Biggers

Chris Biggers is a public and private sector consultant based in Washington, D.C.

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  1. Mad Dog

    George, I really don’t understand what you are implying in your first post. Who are you referring to? Who is afraid?

  2. Max

    Hey Chris, I am a little bit confused from what details you can derive that this mockup is a Nimitz-Class-type. The only thing the Mockup and the Nim have in common is an angled flight deck (maybe with some fantasy the island too), but this can be found on other AC too. And If you look at the size, it comes clear, that in no way this is a mockup of a SuperCarrierType.

    width flightdeck: Nim: 76m Mockup 40m
    length flightdeck: Nim: 332m Mockup 232m

    As I understand it correctly, a Mockup allways simulates correct dimensions. So if you wanna put a on that mockup, you should find a ship that gets any closer to the mockup.

    Or you have other informations that you’ve not shared with us. F.e. someone in Iran, that states this mockup as a Nimitz-Class.

    • Chris Biggers

      Hi Max, You’re absolutely correct; the dimensions don’t match. We assume it’s a Nimitz class as the US often transits the Strait using Nimitz class carriers.

      Iran has often said that if it chooses to close the Strait it would target US carriers. For example last year:

      “Aircraft carriers are the symbol of America’s military might,” said Adm. Fadavi. “The carriers are responsible for supplying America’s air power. So, it’s natural that we want to sink the carriers.”

      Ergo, since it was used in Iranian naval exercises and Iran has said that sinking carriers is a goal, we make that assumption.

      Moreover, earlier images show that it had the number 68 painted on the deck near the bow. CVN-68 is the lead ship of the Nimitz carrier class.

      • Max

        Thx for your reply.

        Your explanation is absolutely plausible. I recognized the tactical situation in the strait of hormuz and the tension between Iran and US allready. So it it was likely that the Mockup is to simulate a US Carrier. I missed the fact that the 68 was painted on it, so that’s undeniable that Iran is referring to Nimitz. Thanks for sharing this.


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