Iran Unveils its Largest Naval Vessel Yet - A Converted Tanker

The helicopter deck aboard the Makran (Mehr News / CC BY SA 4.0)

Published Jan 14, 2021 5:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

Iran has unveiled its largest naval vessel yet - a converted Aframax tanker named the Makran

TankerTrackers.com has identified her as the former Beta (IMO 9486910), a 2010-built tanker previously owned and operated in Dubai and flagged in Liberia. The Beta's AIS signal was last detected by a commercial tracking service in mid-2019 at Khor Fakkan, UAE.

The newly-repurposed and renamed Makran made her debut at a missile exercise in the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday. The exercise coincides with negotiations over Iran's detention of a South Korean tanker, along with significant new steps in Tehran's nuclear program. 

The two-day drill included the debut of the Makran and a new missile corvette, the Zereh. According to Iranian state media, the Makran is intended as a logistics and intelligence-gathering ship, fitted with a large helicopter pad with space for up to seven helis, an array of signals intelligence and data processing equipment and ample fuel tank capacity to resupply other Iranian vessels at sea. 

At 750 feet long, the former tanker is Iran's largest military ship. Iranian Navy Commander Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi told the Tehran Times that Iran plans to create similar vessel conversions in future years. 

Tasnim News reports that Iranian forces spotted a foreign submarine during the exercise, and that it submerged and departed when detected. Its identity is not known, but at least one American attack submarine entered the Persian Gulf last month in an unusual surface transit through the Strait of Hormuz.