The Imperial Iranian Navy

The Imperial Iranian Navy was the smallest of the country's military arms, with about 30,000 personnel in 1977 (most of which were at sea). It was in the midst of a rapid increase in personnel to some 40,000 by the 1979 in order to expand its ability to defend the regions sea-lanes.

The Imperial Iranian Navy was organized into three fleets, two in the Persian Gulf (Bushehr and Bandar Abbas) and the other in the Caspian Sea. Throughout the 1970s, the role of the navy had expanded as Iran recognized the need to defend the region's vital sea-lanes.

After many years of being based at Khorramshahr, by 1977 the bulk of the navy's fleet had been shifted south to the newly completed naval headquarter base at Bandar Abbas. Other main bases were: Bushehr, Khoramshahr, Khark Island, Hengam Island, and Bandar Shahpur. Bandar Pahlavi was the major training facility and home of the small Caspian fleet, which consisted of a few patrol boats and a minesweeper. The naval base at Chah Bahar (on the Gulf of Oman) had been under construction since the late 1970s and in late 1987 still was not completed.

The navy contained an air element, composed of an anit-submarine warfare (ASW) and minesweeping helicopter squadron, and a sizable transport battalion.

In 1977 the navy also supported two marine (Takavaran) battalions and planned to increase its marine strength considerably.

The navy's fleet was entirely of foreign origin. Great Britain had traditionally been their main supplier, but during the 1970s American vessels became more evident. In 1977 This small but powerful force included one British-made and two American-made destroyers, four British-made frigates, and some sixty smaller vessels, including patrol crafts, minesweepers, supply ships fourteen British-made hovercraft. Iran's hovercraft, which function primarily for amphibious assault and logistics support, represent the largest fleet of such vessels in the world. They give the navy unique maneuverability around the shallow shores of the Persian Gulf and were used successfully in the 1971 occupation of Abu Musa and the Tunbs islands.

Major purchases from the United States were due to arrive during the late 1970s and early 1980s. These included 4 Spruance-class destroyers equipped for antiaircraft operations, among the most sophisticated destroyers in the world, and three diesel powered Tang-class submarines. After the cancellation of foreign orders in 1979, the submarines were sold to Turkey and the destroyers passed into the United States Navy. In 1979 Khomeini also canceled an order for six type-209 submarines from West Germany. There were also reports in 1977 of negotiations with Great Britain for the purchase of four cruisers capable of launching aircraft. These new vessels, were planed to base at the Chah Bahar facility, and could give Iran escort and patrol capabilities in the Indian Ocean.

Imperial Iranian Navy in WWII:

Imperial Iranian Navy in 1979 - more than 30,000 men

  • With 2 marine battalions


  • Khoramshahr
  • Bandar Abbas (The First Fleet of Persian Gulf and the new Headquarters)
  • Bushehr(The Second Fleet of Persian Gulf)
  • Bandar Pahlavi (The North Fleet and the training base)
  • Hengam Island
  • Kharg Island
  • Bandar Shahpur
  • Chah Bahar (tri-service base-construction shelved)


  • 3 Destroyers:
    • 1 ex-British BATTLE class with Secat-SAM (Artemiz)
    • 2 ex-US SUMNER class with helicopters (all with STANDARD SSM/SAM)(Babr class)
  • 4 frigates with MK2 Seakiller SSM and Seacat-SAM (Sam class)
  • 4 corvettes (ex-US patrol frigates)(Bayandor class)
  • 7 large patrol craft
  • 5 fast patrol guided missile boats Combattante II type (Kaman class)
  • 5 minesweepers (3 coastal, 2 inshore)
  • 2 landing ships, logistics
  • 2 landing ships, utility
  • 2 logistical support ships
  • 8 SRN-6 hovercraft
  • 6 Wellington BH-7 hovercraft