|Iranian Mini Submarines|
U.S. Navy Commander Christopher Harmer as saying that the United States has great difficulty tracking Iranian mini-submarines. Iranian mini-submarines are “a huge problem for us,” said Harmer, who served as the director of Future Operations for the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet in Bahrain from 2008 to 2009.
Any submarine weighing less than 500 tons is generally regarded as a mini-submarine. “They are a threat to us because they can disperse them throughout the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, and it’s extremely difficult for us to track them,” he stated, adding that as a result, they can lay “in wait to execute an ambush.”
The U.S. Navy is more accustomed to tracking large, Soviet-era nuclear-class submarines, something Iran knows well, Harmer added. He stated, “Looking for small subs in shallow water is much more difficult, because the acoustics are so much more difficult -- smaller makes less noise.” As a result, he added, the Iranian military “has prioritized these mini-subs and (has) gone into overdrive building them.”
Five years ago, Iran had “no mini-subs,” said Harmer, who is currently a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, adding that now Iran has 19 in service and is building an average of four per year, which is a “strategically significant” force. Iran also has “significant special operations capability,” including “extensively” trained frogmen, Harmer stated. According to U.S. military officials, while the diesel-electric powered Iranian mini-submarines have limited range, they have torpedo tubes and can quickly lay mines.