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Iran warship capsizes in port, could be out of action for six months

One of Iran’s newest warships capsized in port over the weekend while undergoing repairs. The incident could damage key combat systems and leave the ship out of service for up to six months, a naval analyst said.

The 94-meter-long Sahand frigate was at a dock in the port of Bandar Abbas when it “lost its balance” after water leaked into its tanks, according to a report by state news agency IRNA.

Several people suffered minor injuries in the incident and were taken to hospital, IRNA reported.

A photo from the semi-official Tasnim News Agency showed the warship lying on its left side in the port of Bandar Abbas.

The ship, which Tasnim said entered service in December 2018, is one of the largest vessels in Iran’s fleet, equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles and an electronic warfare system.

Up to six months for repair

Naval analyst Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain, said it would take Iran four to six months to repair the ship once it could be refloated.

“Seawater severely damages electronics and gets into everything. So all electronics will have to be removed and chemically cleaned to remove the salt,” he explained.

It also affects mechanical parts, which can lead to engine failure if they are not thoroughly cleaned, the expert added.

“Salt fouling destroys piston coatings and turbine blades and interferes with combustion, so if they take ‘shortcuts’ to get the ship back into service, they will pay a heavy price for it,” Schuster warned.

Ships like the Sahand tend to have a lot of weight from electronics and weapons above their center of gravity, Schuster noted.

If the lower fuel tanks were emptied, something that must be done during repairs, weight would have to be removed to keep the ship balanced, he explained.

“Otherwise you run the risk of capsizing the ship, especially if there are strong winds,” he said.

Turned over, not sinking

Schuster said the photo released by Tasnim suggested the ship capsized quickly, rather than sinking and settling on the relatively shallow bottom of the harbor in Bandar Abbas.

“Your movement [foi] interrupted only by the mast and chimney meeting the bottom of the port”, he analyzed.

The IRNA news agency reported that the warship was “being brought back to equilibrium.”

This is a process that will likely take a week or more, according to Schuster, with cranes, buoyancy bladders and portable pumps required.

The Sahand is the most recent ship to bear this name for the Iranian navy. The previous Sahand was sunk by the U.S. Navy in 1988 during Operation Praying Mantis, which was launched after a U.S. frigate was damaged by an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf.

Source: CNN Brasil

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