Iran humiliated as they bungle sinking of replica US warship and block vital naval port

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The Revolutionary Guard had been bombarding the mock vessel in the hope of “symbolically sinking” it in the Strait of Hormuz prior to re-floating it so it can be reused for similar purposes in the future. However, US naval expert Hal Sutton said all has apparently not gone to plan since the exercise, which was dubbed “Prophet Mohammed 14th”.

He added: “It is meant to be reusable and has been symbolically ‘destroyed’ twice already.

“But now it really has sunk. And in very much the wrong place.”

Mr Sutton explained: “It is just outside the harbour entrance to Bandar Abbas, near to the main approach channel.

It is so shallow that other ships face a very real risk of catastrophic damage if they sail over it

Hal Sutton

“It is so shallow that other ships face a very real risk of catastrophic damage if they sail over it.

“In fact, at least as of a couple of days ago, it was partly above water. This is a serious shipping hazard.”

Last week’s drills saw speedboats swarming round the replica of aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, before ground forces launched attacks and a helicopter fired a missile.

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However, the sinking of the vessel appears to halted Iran’s hopes of a repeat performance, certainly in the near future.

If the replica has sunk the bottom of the Strait, Mr Sutton told Forbes Iran would not be able to raise it again – and given how shallow the waters are, it has the potential to pose a major hazard to any ships attempting to enter the harbour.

The use of dummy American warships has become an occasional feature of training by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and its naval forces.

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In 2015 Iranian missiles hit another mock-up, also resembling a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

Tensions between the US and Iran have rocketed since US President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran’s 2015 Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JPOCA) nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions which have severely impacted Tehran’s oil exports.

Iran’s Guards in April vowed to destroy US warships if its security is threatened in the Gulf.

Iranian officials have also repeatedly threatened to block Hormuz if Iran is not able to export oil or if its nuclear sites are attacked.

There have also been regular stand-offs between the Iranian Guards and the US military in the Gulf in recent years.

US officials have said closing the Strait would be crossing a “red line” and America would take action to reopen it.

Iran cannot legally close the waterway unilaterally because part of it is in Omani territorial waters.

However, ships that sail it pass through Iranian waters, which are under the responsibility of the Iran’s Guards naval force.

Last year, the Stena Impero, a UK-flagged vessel, was seized by the Revolutionary Guard and detained at Bandar Abbas for two months.

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