Destroy Harassing Iranian Gunboats

| May 24, 2020

Islamic Republic of Iran Navy Gunboats

“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.” President Donald Trump

US Navy Commanding Officers really didn’t need this missive from President Trump. They are fully aware of the responsibility of protecting their ship and crew, and would not hesitate to do just that if necessary. If anything, President Trump has given them some top cover with what is really just a sound bite.

The question is, just what method would they use to conduct an overwhelming defense on a swarm of attacking Iranian gun boats? The toolbox at their disposal is impressive.

Navy Ships “Authorized” to Destroy Iranian Small Boats — How Would They Do It?

Kris Osborn

Interceptor missiles, attack drones, deck-mounted guns, electronic warfare weapons and even lasers could quickly be called upon by U.S. Navy commanders to destroy Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf — should provocations, hostile actions or attacks require a lethal U.S. response.

The U.S. Navy is equipped, prepared and authorized to attack and defend against Iranian threats should that be needed, according to a recent tweet from President Trump and supporting comments from senior Pentagon leaders.

Iranian threats in the Persian Gulf have been on the Pentagon’s radar for many years, as Iranian military units have at times used small attack boat maneuvers and mines near their borders to intimidate forces and commercial ships. These maneuvers and threats — are by no means unprecedented — and they have been of particular concern in a narrow Strait of Hormuz waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman; the Strait of Hormuz is a crucial, narrow passageway for international ships, such as oil tankers and other key vessels used for global commerce.

General John Hyten, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist recently spoke to reporters in support of the President’s message. They were clear that current U.S. commanders absolutely have the “authority” to engage and destroy Iranian boats and weapons … should that be necessary. The intent of the message, at least in part, seems to clearly warn Iran not to seek to capitalize upon the current U.S. COVID 19 crisis and explain that the U.S. military is still “ready for war” if necessary.

These current circumstances almost instantly lend themselves to a host of pertinent questions, and a bit of an analytical discussion regarding — “just how would the U.S. Navy quickly destroy Iranian forces should they need to?”

”If we see hostile intent, we have the right to respond up to and including lethal force, and if it happens in the Gulf, if it happens in any way, we will respond with overwhelming lethal force, if necessary, to defend ourselves, and it’s really that simple. But nobody should doubt that the commanders have the authority right now to respond to any hostile act or hostile intent,” Hyten told reporters recently, according to a Pentagon transcript of the discussion.

Deck-mounted 5-inch guns, now arming Navy cruisers and destroyers, may upon first glance come to mind, as they can blanket areas with lethal munitions at ranges out to 12km. In support of these guns, Navy surface ships, such as amphibs, carriers and Littoral Combat ships, are equipped with varying deck-mounted guns and interceptors — to include .50-cal machine guns and 57mm “small boat destroying” weapons (on LCS).

For instance, Navy surface ships are armed with an “area” interceptor weapon called Close-In-Weapons System (CIWS), a so-called phalanx gun engineered to fire hundreds of small metal projectiles in seconds; it can fire 4,500 rounds per minute. The weapon, while initially designed as a counter air drone, missile and even helicopter interceptor, has in recent years been upgraded into a “1B” variant specifically tailored for anti-surface warfare. This means the CIWS weapon is fully capable of destroying swarms of attacking small boats moving on the surface at close ranges. The CIWS gun is connected to ship-based radar, fire control and command and control technologies to activate quickly in the event that a surface ship is attacked.


In addition, many Navy ships are armed with an upgraded variant of the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block 2, a missile built with an advanced seeker, guidance system and ability to take out sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missiles closer to the water. More recent ship-defense weapons included new iterations of Electronic Warfare and even lower-cost precise lasers designed with optics to detect — and then incinerate — incoming attacks. EW could of course be used to jam or thwart the electronic sensors and guidance systems of approaching weapons, therefore disabling their ability to strike. Laser and EW would of course be advantageous in highly trafficked waters with commercial or civilian ships in the area, as they would likely produce lower amounts of potentially harmful debris or fragmentation.

As mentioned in a previous post, before you can shoot it you have to see it. For that and more, read here: Defense Maven

Category: Iran, Navy

Comments (14)

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  1. Ex-PH2 says:

    Deck-mounted 5 inch guns? Nah. Too easy.

    How about emptying the bilges on those boats instead? You gotta clean the bilges anyway, don’tcha? Might as well make a secondary use of the contents while you’re at it.

    It would be kind of like running into an angry skunk: you’ll avoid it like the Plague if it happens even once.

  2. 26Limabeans says:

    In my former life as a military industrial complex employee
    I was in awe at the capabilities of our defense systems.
    Aegis, Patriot, SM 1 thru SM 3, Phalanx and even the Army’s
    Stinger (Naval arsenal produced). All of that is decades old
    and much of it still in use.

    All I can say to our enemies is “come and get some”.

  3. Combat Historian says:

    “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.” – D.J. Trump, 2020

    “Surrender to the Iranians immediately because we have to preserve our precious JCPOA!!!” – B.H. Obama, 2016

  4. 5th/77th FA says:

    I am almost certain that I nearly had an involuntary vascular reaction by just reading that descriptive fire power pr0n0graphi@ missive. It is a good thing for the upholstery of this couch that you did not have a video accompanying. Then I would have had to deal with a wet spot, the need for a smoke, and some pillow talk on “was it good for you too?”

    Tanks Air Boss, this answered some leftover questions I had on the thread on this subject the other day.

    • AW1Ed says:

      Once again you put me in a quandary, Gun Bunny. “Air Boss” is a very specific term for the officer on an aircraft carrier in charge of all things aircraft onboard, from the hangar to the flight deck, and to five nautical miles around the ship. This is not a happy job. 100% stress 100% of the time and lock-wired in the pissed-off mode. My first encounter with one was in my helo, dropping the Padre off from his Sunday services on the ships in the formation. Holy Helo, heh. Over the 5MC, a speaker system that must be heard to be appreciated, came the command “Get that God Dammed helo off of my flight deck! Now!” directed at us. We left most ricky-tick.
      So thanks, but I’m not an Air boss.

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        Yeah, yeah, yeah, I knows all of that! We use it as a term of endearment, since you are the “Boss” of this ship of fools, err, the d’weeded miscreanted basket of deplorables that hang out around here. And you keep the air in the volleyball. It is also shorter than Aeronautical Designated Member of Naval Aviation that used to be a rotor head on the swim team, and has driven/ridden an ill constructed 4 engined bassackwards mounted winged surface hunting sonar/torpedo platform.

        You Navy boys and your damned ol’ terminology. I guess my goose is cooked and I’ll find a maverick up my six right shortly. Had a cuz, swabbie, that called the swimmers, “Flippers” while he was in. It was OK with most of them till the dolphin picture show came out.

        I had heard from one of my boys that most of the Air Bosses were hard core, but for the most part, equal opportunity hard core. Gave everybody, no matter who, a hard time. There was no true insult intended. Guess I have to buy the popcorn when you and Mick take us to the motion picture show?

      • Mason says:

        The chaplain gets a weekly ride from ship to ship? That’s pretty cool.

  5. Mason says:

    According to the wiki, the ESSM runs nearly $1M a pop. Seems a waste of resources, but it would be a good show. It’d also leave far less cleanup.

    Seems stupid to hit those civilian-grade speedboats the Iranians call their special operations boats with anything more than 5.56 or 7.62. Once they hit the drink, pick the pirates up and now you’ve got some bargaining chips.

  6. Slow Joe says:

    I wouldn’t assume the commanders of our ships would take out those iranian boats, short of the Iranians trying to board.

    After 8 years of the community organizer in chief they seem very risk adverse.

    Hopefully we soon start to see the institutional cultural change in our military, after a win this November confirms that the Trump Era is not a short temporary interlude.

  7. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    I say keep blowing them out of the water until they STFU and behave lile when Quaddafi wouldn’t quit throwing shitfits until Ronald Reagan sent some F-111s to make him do so!

  8. Old tanker says:

    The Navy has had a successful test of a ship borne laser taking out a drone. I think they need a sea test on small boats in the middle east waters.

  9. FuzeVT says:

    “Close-In-Weapons System (CIWS), a so-called phalanx gun engineered to fire hundreds of small metal projectiles in seconds”

    Small metal projectiles – occasionally called bullets.