Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, the commander of the Iranian Navy, announced that the country’s naval forces are currently using advanced drones equipped with sonar detection technology to target sub-surface vessels.
“The regular navy has entered the arena of detection of both surface and sub-surface vessels and destroying them using drones. This achievement is already being exploited inside the navy,” Irani said in an exclusive interview with the Tasnim news agency on April 18.
He also noted that the development and construction of these sonar-equipped drones were accomplished by young Iranian experts. These innovative drones possess the capability to detect submarines.
While speaking at the Army Day parade on the same day, Irani was asked about the movements of the US fleet in the region. In response, he cautioned that Iranian forces were closely monitoring the activities of US vessels in the region and described their actions as “devilry.”
He further accused the US of endorsing piracy within the region, emphasizing that the Iranian navy is committed to maintaining maritime security for the benefit of the region and the world.
“Their presence is really too much and it would be better for them to return home,” the admiral said.
Irani’s remarks followed the US announcement on April 8, which confirmed that the USS Florida, a nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine, was deployed in the Middle East to assist the Fifth Fleet stationed in Bahrain.
On April 2, the Iranian Navy issued a warning to a US Navy EP-3E aircraft that “had crossed” into Iranian airspace over the Gulf of Oman. The Iranian Navy’s Public Relations office reported that a US “spy plane” was identified and warned after entering Iranian airspace. However, the plane was prevented from entering Iranian territory and subsequently departed Iranian airspace to return to international routes.
In early March, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) expanded its fleet with the addition of the ocean-going warship, Shahid Mahdavi, and 99 missile-launching boats.
The upgrade to the fleet occurred amid rising tensions between Iran and its arch-enemy, Israel. Iran has announced that it has deployed additional weapons and radars in response to threats from Israel. Meanwhile, Israel has stated that military action has not been ruled out as Iran continues to expand its nuclear program.
On March 6, Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, declared that Iran was “mass-producing” technology capable of enabling ballistic missiles to target and strike moving naval vessels.
The Persian Gulf has witnessed several attacks on tankers in recent years, often occurring during periods of heightened regional tensions with Iran. In November 2022, the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, released details and photos of its investigation into the attack on the Liberian-flagged Pacific Zircon tanker. The investigation revealed that the Shahed-136 drone caused a 30-inch-wide (76 cm) hole in the back of the ship, damaging a shipboard boiler, potable water tank, and life raft.
In July 2021, a suspected drone attack struck a petroleum product tanker managed by an Israeli firm off Oman’s coast. Iran denied any involvement in the incident.