Iran Converts Boxship into Drone Carrier

The Iranian flag
Updated Published

Iran is readying to launch its first drone carrier, the Shahdid Mahdavi - a boxship that was previously called Sarvin and has been converted, adding to commercial shipping’s growing list of concerns surrounding the security situation in the Middle East. 

In Yemen, the Houthis have been assisted by Iranian hardware and intelligence by supporting the targeting of merchant vessels over the last 3 months, with the Houthis demanding Israel end its war in Gaza. So far, 35 commercial vessels have been the targets of missiles and drones. 

One carrier, the Galazy Leader, was hijacked with its crew and remains in Yemeni waters. 

The upcoming drone carrier is expected to wreak havoc against commercial shipping in the Arabian Sea. 

The ship, the Shahid Mahdavi, started out as a 3,280 teu boxship and was delivered from Hyundai Heavy Industries in the year 2000. The conversion occurred at the ISOICO shipyard, west of Bandar Abbas and is now controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. 

The converted vessel has been reconfigured to have an increased deck width and 170m of runway. It will now be able to accommodate the departure and landing of a very large fleet of fixed-wing, long-range drones. 

Fars, a semi-official news agency, described the ship as a “mobile naval city” and capable of “ensuring the security of Iran’s trade lines, as well as the rights of Iranian sailors and fishermen in the high seas.” 

The news agency also noted that: “This range of new defense and combat innovations for the construction of heavy vessels, in line with the mass development of light vessels, and equipping them with various arrays can maintain Iran’s authority over the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman always in the face of transregional enemies”.

Madani, who has been tracking the Iranian vessels for the last 6 years, said: “We anticipate Iran’s coming drone carrier will eventually wreak havoc against commercial vessels in the Arabian Sea, somewhere halfway to India.”

Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, the head of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and heading operations in the Middle East, discussed Iran’s ties with the Houthis speaking with the Associated Press this week: “What I’ll say is Iran is clearly funding, they’re resourcing, they are supplying and they’re providing training,” Cooper said. “They’re obviously very directly involved. There’s no secret there.”