Accession Number:



Iran's Naval Forces: From Guerilla Warfare to a Modern Naval Strategy

Descriptive Note:

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Irans naval forces, like the country itself, have been shaped by the Islamic revolution, petroleum, and an often adversarial relationship with neighboring countries and the international community as a whole. These factors have influenced how Irans naval forces are organized, how they are equipped and manned, and how they interact with external forces. Iran has two naval forces the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy, or IRIN, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, or IRGCN. The IRIN is the naval branch of the traditional military force that existed prior to the 1979 revolution. Today, it consists mainly of older, mid-sized naval combatants, such as corvettes and missile-equipped patrol craft purchased by the Shah. The IRIN has not fully escaped the stigma of its prerevolution loyalties and remains secondary in most respects to the IRGCN. The IRGCN emerged after the Islamic revolution during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. The revolutionary forces not only distrusted the former Shahs military, they weakened it by executing many senior commanders and conducting purges. Over the intervening decades, the IRGCN has been politically favored over the IRIN and has capitalized on this status to acquire advanced weaponry and better platforms to develop additional capabilities. Today, Irans naval forces protect Iranian waters and natural resources, especially Irans petroleum-related assets and industries. Additionally, Iran uses its naval forces for political ends such as naval diplomacy and strategic messaging. Iranian leaders indicate that they would consider closing or controlling the Strait of Hormuz if provoked, thereby cutting off almost 30 percent of the worlds oil supply.

Subject Categories:

  • Naval Surface Warfare
  • Undersea and Antisubmarine Warfare

Distribution Statement: