By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
The alleged attack on two oil tankers off the coast of Iran in the Gulf of Oman occurred within miles of the Iranian naval base at Jask. This base has been a center of Iran’s annual naval drills and tests of its latest weapons, including submarines and anti-ship missiles and torpedoes. The Front Altair was off the coast of the base when it was allegedly attacked on June 13.
The Jask base was established in 2008. According to reports it is initially under the control of the Iranian navy, while the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps run other bases in the Persian Gulf.
In February Iran tested missiles near this base.
The base gave Iran an easy way to threaten the Straits of Hormuz and potentially cut off a fifth of the world’s oil supply. It appears the IRGC set down roots in Jask ask well, after it was expanded. Initially the port is a center for the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy’s 2nd Naval District headquarters.
In 2010 the base was the center of Velayat 89, an annual drill, that was held off the coast of Jask and was coordinated from the base.
However in 2015 The Daily Beast revealed that the base also is central to Iran’s drone program and has Ghadir “midget submarines.”
“The satellite images, published this week by Google Earth, indicate the presence of surveillance drones and Ghadir midget submarines at Bandar-e Jask, an Iranian naval base just southeast of the strategically crucial Strait of Hormuz. The facility’s use as a drone and submarine base has not been previously reported.” -Daily Beast
Iran also tested anti-ship missiles near here in 2013. It has historically tested missiles in this area dating back to the 1990s. In a more threatening drill in the fall of 2018 Iran fired a Fateh 110 ballistic missile from an IRGC base in Jask, according to US officials in a statement to Fox News.
In February 2019 the Velayat 97 exercises took place off the coast of Jask with most of the Iranian navy parading next to the Jask base. In February Iran showed footage of a Ghadir class submarine using a “Jask-2” anti-shipmissile. Other weapons that Iran has include the Tareq submarine’s electronic torpedo and the Ghadir submarine’s Valfajr torpedo. These were tested in February alongside Qader cruise missiles.
Iran also has a Fateh-class submarine, with another missile called Nasr. It also has a destroyed of the Sahand class. It is a bit confusing because the Fateh 110 missile. Iran has been increasingly experimenting and improving these weapons in the last several years.
Images of the burning tanker have been published.