Iran moves mock aircraft carrier to sea amid US tensions

Published July 28, 2020
THIS handout satellite image obtained courtesy Maxar Technologies on Monday shows an Iranian mockup aircraft carrier, Bandar Abbas. — AFP
THIS handout satellite image obtained courtesy Maxar Technologies on Monday shows an Iranian mockup aircraft carrier, Bandar Abbas. — AFP

DUBAI: Iran has moved a mock aircraft carrier to the strategic Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions with the United States, satellite photographs released on Monday show, likely signalling the Islamic Republic soon plans to use it for live-fire drills.

An image from Maxar Technologies taken on Sunday shows an Iranian fast boat speed towards the carrier, sending waves up in its wake, after a tugboat pulled her out into the strait from the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.

Iranian state media and officials have yet to acknowledge bringing the replica out to the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20pc of the world’s oil passes. However, its appearance there suggests Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard is preparing an encore of a similar mock-sinking it conducted in 2015.

The US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, which patrols Mideast waterways, remains confident in our naval forces ability to defend themselves against any maritime threat,” said spokeswoman Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich when asked about the faux carrier’s movements.

We cannot speak to what Iran hopes to gain by building this mockup, or what tactical value they would hope to gain by using such a mock-up in a training or exercise scenario,” Rebarich said. “We do not seek conflict, but remain ready to defend US forces and interests from maritime threats in the region.

The replica resembles the Nimitz-class carriers that the US Navy routinely sails into the Persian Gulf from the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the waterway. The USS Nimitz, the namesake of the class, just entered Mideast waters late last week from the Indian Ocean, likely to replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Arabian Sea.

It remains unclear when or if the Nimitz will pass through the Strait of Hormuz or not during its time in the Mideast. The USS Abraham Lincoln, deployed last year as tensions initially spiked, spent months in the Arabian Sea before heading through the strait. The Eisenhower came through the strait early last week.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2020

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