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's fleet was entirely of foreign origin. Great Britain had traditionally been their main supplier, but during the 1970s American vessels became more evident.

The navy, which had consisted only of coast guard ships of less than 100 tons water dispacement was also expanded after the World War II. In 1949 a frigate (built in 1944) and a mine sweeper (built in 1941) were aquired, and a steady construction programme was introduced. 4 missile destroyers and 4 torpedo boasts for military operations in the Persian Gulf were ordered from the British Shipyard Vosper Thornyeroft, not much later, the contract for the world's largest fleet of military hovercraft was signed with a British manufacturer.

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 and fourteen British-made hovercraft.

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

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, despite that at the end of the Shah's regime payments had been made to West German Yards for these long-lead submarines.

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.

All of the commanding officers in the Iranian navy up to the mid-1970s had been educated at naval academies in the US, Great Britain, or Italy.

Imperial Iranian Navy in WWII:

In 1924 warships were received, against British objections, from Italy. The establishment of a small fleet started with the delivery of a series of gunboats. Several hundred Persian were trained to operate these ships.

  • I GROUP (Babr Class)(1932, 950 tons Sloop; 62.4m/9m/3.1m; 15 knots; 4x102mm guns):
    • Babr
    • Palang
  • II GROUP (Shahbaz Class)(1932, 331 tons Gun Boat, 51.8m/6.7m/1.8m; 15 knots; 2x76mm, 2x37mm guns):
    • Shahbaz
    • Shahrokh
    • Karkass
    • Simorgh
  • Light Fleet :
    • Shaan (Mine Sweeper)
    • Gilan (30 tons Motor Launch)
    • Azarbaijan (30 tons Motor Launch)
    • Mazandaran (30 tons Motor Launch)
    • Babolsar (30 tons Motor Launch)
    • Gorgan (30 tons Motor Launch)
    • Sefindrende (30 tons Motor Launch)
    • Niru (Tug Boat)
  • Yacht:
    • Shahsavar (Royal Yacht)

Imperial Iranian Navy in 1979 - about 40,000 men

Imperial Iranian Navy Commanders

  • With 2 marine battalions


Persian Gulf Ex-Headquarter of IINAVY
Bandar Abbas Persian Gulf (The First Fleet of Persian Gulf and the New Headquarters)
Persian Gulf (The Second Fleet of Persian Gulf)
Bandar Shahpur
Persian Gulf  
Kharg Island
Persian Gulf  
Hengam Island
Persian Gulf  
Chah Bahar
Indian Ocean (tri-service base-construction shelved)
Bandar Pahlavi
Caspian Sea (The North Fleet and the training base)

Strength of the Fleet:

  • 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)

On Order :

3 Spruance-class DD963 Destroyers
3 Submarines (Tang-class)
6 Submarines (Type-209)
7 Fast patrol guided missile boats Combattante II type (Kaman class)
2 landing ships and craft


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