D’OH! The Pride of Iran’s Navy ‘Lost Its Balance’ and Sank in Port


In April 1988, the U.S. launched Operation Praying Mantis, a one-day war against Iran. It was retaliation for the U.S. frigate Samuel B. Roberts striking an Iranian mine in international waters. Although the Roberts’ keel was broken, thanks to the crew’s effort, the ship did not sink.


Ronald Reagan ordered the April 18, 1988 response. By the end of the day, Iran had lost five ships. A frigate was sunk, and a gunboat and 3 speedboats were sent to the bottom of the sea. One other Iranian frigate was heavily damaged and crippled, and two oil platforms were destroyed. An operation to send SEALs to capture the platforms was called off because the platforms were destroyed. It was the largest naval engagement for the U.S. Navy since World War II.

Iran’s navy does not have a very good track record. The Islamic Republic makes a lot of noise about its abilities, but in the end, it has stayed out of a hot war. Unmanned drones and their proxies like the Houthis are Iran’s best bet for keeping its navy from ending up on the ocean floor. Sometimes, Iran’s ships don’t need an enemy to end up sinking. In the past few years, Iran has seen three vessels sink due to accidents.

In January 2018, an Iranian destroyer named the Damavand (apparently, Iran names its destroyers after mountains) struck a breakwater in the Caspian Sea, rolled to starboard, and sank. The Damavand was launched in 2015. 

In June 2021, another Iranian Naval warship named the Kharg caught fire and, 20 hours later, sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Oman.

On Monday, Iran’s most “advanced” warship, the destroyer Sahand (named, yes, for a mountain), was in dock for “repairs.” Someone must have left a door open because the ship took on water and, according to Iranian news mouthpieces, “lost its balance.” It slowly filled with seawater and rolled. The Sahand lost its balance and rolled to port, sinking into the silty muck.



Sahand was/is the pride and joy of the Iranian navy. It took six years to build her and about 20 minutes to sink. According to Iran, the Sahand represents Iran’s ability to build its own ships of war. With advanced ship-to-ship, ship-to-air, and ship-to-shore weapons, she was intended to frighten Iran’s enemies. Once Iran gets Sahand upright, closes the doors, pumps the water out, and she’s watertight, she should be good to go again. The Sahand will be back intimidating America and Iran’s Gulf neighbors, flexing Iran’s might – as long someone doesn’t open that door again.

Iran is reportedly building or intends to build seagoing submarines. Maybe this is Iran’s first submarine-building effort.