Iraq and the War of Sanctions: Conventional Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction

By Anthony H. Cordesman | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

The Threat from Iraqi Naval Forces

It has been difficult to determine the organization of the Iraqi navy since its near destruction in the Gulf War. Its headquarters remain in Baghdad, and it still seems to have three flotillas, which include its large ships, patrol ships, and mine warfare forces. It also has intelligence, fleet support, land-based anti-ship missiles, and training directorates. The Iraqi navy has naval bases at Basrah, Az Zubayr, and the commercial dock at Umm Qasr. Many of its ships are based at Az Zubayr, although a small channel to Basra along the Shatt al-Arab is used to base some patrol boats. It currently seems to be under the Southern Command that Saddam Hussein created just before Desert Fox.


MANNING AND OVERALL STRENGTH

Figure 7.1 shows the relative strength of Gulf navies. In 1999, the Iraqi navy only had only a core strength of about 1,900–2,500 men, although some estimates indicate a total manning of 5,000. This manpower strength included that used to guard naval bases and man Iraq’s land-based anti-ship missiles. It did not, however, include the naval infantry and marine forces, which are subordinate to the army.

The navy’s surviving forces included the frigate Ibn Khaldun, one Osa-class missile boat, 13 light combat vessels, 5–8 landing craft, the Agnadeen, one Yugoslav Spasilac-class transport, a floating dry dock, and possibly one repairable Polnocny-class LST. The IISS and Jane’s report that Iraq also had three 5,800-ton roll-on, roll-off transport ships with helicopter decks, a capability to carry 250 troops and 18 tanks, and the ability to embark small landing craft. These ships may be under commercial flags and do not have the ability to beach. 1

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