Five Arab gunboats shell, sink ship at Hodeida. Houthi aligned port

Polnocny-C Indian Navy

 "Five gunboats shelled the administrative buildings of the base," the official told Reuters by telephone from Hodeida.   Arab warplanes and ships also hammered Yemen's largest military port in the Red Sea city of Hodeida at dawn May 27,."The naval base was bombed by aircraft and ships. Large parts of it were destroyed and two warships were hit, and one of them, named the Bilqis, was destroyed and sank onto its side, and five gunboats shelled the administrative buildings of the base," the official said by telephone from Hodeida.

Poland sold a medium landing craft for the Yemeni navy. It is equipped with a bow ramp that allows beach landings.   The NS-722-class landing craft is the last of four and meant to transport tanks and marines.

The first vessel, a 1,383-ton vessel called Bilqis, was built by
Poland's Naval Shipyard Gdynia. The landing craft can transport five T-72
main battle tanks and 111 combatants.  
 NS-722 class (1 built in 2002)
Displacement: 1,410 tons full load
Length: 88.7 m
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h)
Aircraft facility: One helicopter platform
Hodeida and its military bases are aligned with the Houthis, the most powerful force in Yemen's complex conflict, which also involves southern secessionist militia, local tribal forces and Islamist militants such as Al-Qaeda's regional wing.

[May 25 MS Iran Shahed:unloaded / Undeclared voyages between Iran and Yemeni ports controlled by the Huthis ]
United Nations officials in the port of Djibouti say they have taken charge of aid cargo carried by  Iran Shahed .   The vessel  was carrying 2,500 tons of food aid for Yemen that will now be distributed by the UN World Food Program.
At least four large cargo ships made a "series of highly unusual and undeclared trips between Iran and Yemeni ports controlled by the Huthis in the first few months of the year," based on a search of maritime records.
While it is not known what cargo the Iranian ships were carrying, they "changed their ensigns, turned off their tracking devices at key points during their voyages, registered false information in international shipping logs, and met unidentified craft mid-ocean,"after the Huthi rebellion broke out in Yemen. The rebels since then have dislodged the government and taken over large swaths of the country, including the capital, Sanaa, and biggest port, Aden.

[May 17 docked at Djibouti
Just before 10 p.m. local time (8 p.m. GMT), the Iran Shahed moved into the port of Djibouti and docked. After undergoing inspection by U.N. or Red Cross officials in Djibouti, the Iran Shahed would be able to dock at a Yemeni port and deliver its aid cargo without being intercepted, stopped or boarded by Saudi or U.S. naval forces. The Saudis, for their part, will not have to choose between intercepting the vessel and maintaining the legitimacy of their naval blockade on Yemen, since the Iran Shahed will have been inspected by a neutral party.

If an official organization like the U.N or the International Committee of the Red Cross is willing to give the shipments on board the Iran Shahed the seal of approval, this will almost certainly deflate the controversy surrounding the ship. As the naval blockade continues, however, it is still unclear whether Iran will send more aid ships and whether they will also be willing to submit to inspection to avoid conflict.

[May 17  due in Hodeida May 21]
Aboard ms Iran Shahed

Tasnim, a news agency associated with Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard reported that the vessel had left Omani waters and was in the Gulf of Aden.   The vessel’s captain, Masoud Qazi Mir-Saeed, said that if weather remained fair it should dock in rebel-controlled Hodeida on May 21
It was under escort by a frigate, the reporter said, but that vessel was a foreign ship that is part of international antipiracy efforts, the Fars news agency said.   A Pentagon spokesman had said on May 12 that the United States was tracking the Iran Shahed, after an Iranian naval commander told state media that warships might escort it to Yemen. [May 17, 2015 Updated: May 17, 2015 06:40 PM]

[May 13 ]
MS Iran Shahed, which Tehran says is carrying humanitarian supplies. left on May 11 for the Yemeni port Hodaida, which is held by Iran-allied Houthi fighters.

"If the Iranians follow U.N. protocol, move the ship to a port in Djibouti, allow the humanitarian cargo they claim is on the ship to be distributed through U.N. channels, then they will have done the right thing in this case," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said.   Iranian warships will accompany the self-discharger.

General Cargo  
IMO:  9184691
MMSI:  422517000
Call Sign:  9BHI
Flag:  Iran (IR)
AIS Type:  Cargo
Gross Tonnage:  2615
Deadweight:  3340 t
Length × Breadth:  92.85m × 15.85m
Year Built:  1999

[April 23 Iranian flotilla now sailing NE past Oman]

Iranian nine-ship convoy is south of Salalah, Oman, and now headed northeast in the Arabian Sea in the direction of home. The ships, which include seven freighters and two frigates, had sailed southwest along the coast of Yemen heading in the direction of Aden and the entrance to the Red Sea. They appeared to drop anchor in the north Arabian Sea.    Warships from Saudi Arabia and Egypt are positioned to the southwest of the convoy, forming a blockade of the Gulf of Aden and the port city of Aden.

[April 21 ]
 The Iranian ships are moving very slowly, about five knots, off the coast of Yemen.   Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman said the United States did not know what the Iranian cargo ships were carrying and declined to say whether the U.S. warships would stop and board Iranian vessels if they attempted to enter Yemeni territorial waters.   "I'm not going to telegraph anything," Warren said.
 “It is hard to believe that Mukalla could be controlled this quickly by Al Qaeda, amidst the complete absence of the security forces,” The relative ease with which the militants captured large parts of the city raised fears of a broader expansion by the Sunni extremists, who have proved adept in the past at exploiting turmoil in Yemen to capture territory.

Koosha 3  Info Received:  2015-03-09 20:50, Area:  Oman Gulf
ARDAVAN Info Received:  2015-04-20 11:15  Area:  Persian Gulf

Eight Iranian ships are heading toward Yemen and possibly carrying arms for the Houthis.   What's unusual about the new deployment is that the Iranians are not trying to conceal it.    Instead, they appear to be trying to "communicate it" to the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf.  Navy officials said there are about nine U.S. warships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels.   The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was moving through the Arabian Sea off Yemen to beef up security and join other American ships that are prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen.   The U.S. Navy generally conducts consensual boardings of ships.  

Alvand-class frigate

Iran's Bushehr logistic vessel and Alborz frigater, left Iran’s southern port city of Bandar Abbas on  April 8  bound for waters off Yemen.
Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said tthe ships would be part of an antipiracy campaign aimed at "safeguarding naval routes for vessels in the region."
Alborz  (F-72)
Class and type: Alvand-class frigate
Displacement: 1,100 tons (1,540 tons full load)
Length: 94.5 m (310 ft)
Beam: 11.07 m (36 ft)
Draught: 3.25 m (10.5 ft)
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 Paxman Ventura cruising diesels, 3,800 bhp, 17 knots (31 km/h)
2 Rolls Royce Olympus TM2 boost gas turbines, 46,000 shp, 39 knots (72 km/h)
Speed: 39 knots (72 km/h) max
Range: 5,000 nmi (9,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Complement: 125-146
Armament: 4 x C-802 anti-ship missiles
1 × 4.5 inch (114 mm) Mark 8 gun
1 x twin 35 mm AAA, 2 x single 20 mm AAA
2 × 81 mm mortars
2 × 0.50cal machine guns
1 x Limbo ASW mortar
2 x triple 12.75 in torpedo tubes

[February 8 2014 Iran's frigate Sabalan,Kharg bound for U.S. waters ]

Sabalan (in Persian سبلان) is a British-made Vosper Mark V-class (or Alvand-class) frigate in the Iranian Navy.
Commissioned in June 1972 as part of a four-ship order, 

Commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad announced on January 8. The admiral, who is also the commander of the Iranian Army's 4th Naval Zone said, "Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message."
With task of securing shipping routes as well as training new personnel, Iran's Sabalan frigate and Kharg logistic helicopter carrier left for the Atlantic Ocean from the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on a three-month voyage. "The Iranian Army's naval fleets have already started their voyage towards the Atlantic Ocean via the waters near South Africa," he said. The Associated Press says Iranian officials acknowledged last month that the fleet consisted of a destroyer and a logistic helicopter carrier.   

March 04, 2013 - CHINA - The Iranian Navy’s 24th fleet of warships has docked in the Chinese port of Zhanjiang, which is located in southwest China, the deputy commander of the Navy announced on March 4, 2013.
“The (Navy’s) 24th fleet of warships, comprised of the Kharg helicopter carrier and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Sabalan frigate docked in  Zhanjiang Port  after sailing 13,000 kilometers in 40 days,”    

On the morning of April 18, 1988, the oil platforms were knocked out. The U.S. forces then turned to look for Iranian frigates in the Strait of Hormuz,... Another group of A-6 Intruders was sent to the reported location of the Sabalan in the strait, where, the frigate fired at the A-6s at 6.17 p.m. (Gulf time). At 6.18 p.m., an A-6 dropped a Mk-82 500 pound laser-guided bomb, which left the Sabalan paralyzed and on fire. At The Pentagon, Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., and U.S. Central Command head Gen. George B. Crist monitored the situation. After discussion, the men decided to spare the moribund Sabalan, perhaps to prevent further escalation.
Iranian forces towed the damaged ship to the port of Bandar-Abbas, and it was eventually repaired and returned to service.   The Moudge class frigate is a modified Iranian-built version of the Alvand, with five either in service or building.

The U.S. Navy's 5th fleet is based in Bahrain — across the gulf from Iran.

[November 11, 2012]

Admiral Naghdi, DE 91

IS Kharg
Shahid, Kharg enter Mediterranean after crossing the Suez Canal on November 10

 [October 31]Two Iranian warships docked in Port Sudan have left the Sudanese port after a visit coinciding with Khartoum's denial that Iran is involved in making weapons in Sudan.   .Small Sudanese craft escorted the Kharg out of the harbour, after the departure of another Iranian warship, the corvette Admiral Naghdi. The Naghdi's crew stood in orange life jackets as the gunboat departed.

[October 29]An Iranian naval task force docked in Sudan on October 29 includes IS  Shahid Naqdi, a corvette-class vessel, and IS Kharg, a supply vessel that can carry three helicopters.   Sudan is often thought a waypoint for arms smuggled to Hamas.

[February 22,2011]After two days of violent street protests in one week, Iran's opposition Green Movement said Feb 21 it was pondering its next move and considering a continuation of street protests, according to opposition websites.
A new date hasn't been announced for antigovernment protests although supporters posted on the opposition's Facebook page that this Tuesday or Wednesday are possible.
Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi have been under house arrest for over a week with little communication with the outside world.

IS Alvand, DE 71, passed through the Suez canal at Ismailia, Egypt, Tuesday, Feb.22, 2011, together with IS Kharg, replenishment ship 431.
The Iranian ships are headed for Latkia in Syria on a training mission.
The ships paid about $300,000 in fees for the passage, according to a Maritime agent.

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