Iran-Iraq Naval War

Volume 1: Opening Blows, 1980-1982

E.R. Hooton, Farzin Nadimi, Milos Sipos

Based on first research and extensive use of official documentation from both sides, this is the first-ever inclusive military history of naval warfare between Iran and Iraq.
Date Published :
December 2022
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Middle East@War
Illustration :
70 photos, 6 maps, 4 diags, 18 color profiles
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781914377204
Pages : 80
Dimensions : 11.75 X 8.25 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


Nominally at least, the bloody and ruinous eight-year war fought between Iran and Iraq was a confrontation dominated by operations on land. The traditional impression is that the resources devoted to naval warfare were minute in comparison to those of its major land battlefields. As so often, the reality is almost diametrically opposite. Certainly enough, the horrendous casualties incurred in major land offensives make the Iran-Iraq War one of the bloodiest conflicts of the 20th century. It escaped public attention that the mass of what was happening on these battlefields was decided by naval warfare and that indeed, the consequences of that naval warfare led to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and the country’s subsequent downfall into chaos and civil war.

During the first year of the Iran-Iraq War, Iranian naval activity began to prove decisive for the country’s ability to continue waging the war. Not only was its primary point of exporting crude oil – Khark Island – in the northern Persian Gulf, but Iran became heavily dependent on hauling reinforcements and supplies from ports in the lower and central Gulf, foremost Bandar-e Abbas and Bushehr, to the modern and huge port of Bandar-e Khomeyni in the north. This in turn prompted the Iraqis to attempt interrupting both of these flows. Iraqi deployed the full spectrum of their arsenal including the Aéorspatiale AM.39 Exocet anti-ship missile, which saw its first combat deployment at least six months before its use during the Falklands War. However, much of this story this has remained unknown beyond superficial insight into the ‘Tanker War’.

The first part of Volume 1 of this mini-series concentrates on providing the background and context of the conflict, and of the naval capabilities of the two belligerents: through a detailed study of both navies, but also the two air forces. It provides a precise analysis of their capabilities and intentions, and sets the scene for the naval warfare of the following eight years.

The second part covers the first months of the war, including the famous air and naval Operation Morvarid, undertaken with the aim of destroying the two primary Iraqi oil-loading terminals in the northern Persian Gulf.

Based on extensive first research with help of previously unavailable documentation and interviews with veterans, and richly illustrated, this volume provides unique insights into modern-day naval warfare, including many lessons-learned still valid in the present day.

About The Author

E. R. Hooton is a retired defence journalist, with a career including acting as a Jane’s yearbook editor. He is the author of more than a dozen military history books ranging from the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, air operations over the Western Front in 1916-1918, the breaking of the Hindenburg Line in 1918, the Red Army of 1937-1941, air operations between 1939 and 1945 and the Communist Chinese victory of 1945-1951. This is his fifth book for Helion’s Middle East@War series.

Farzin Nadimi is a writer and researcher of the Middle Eastern and Persian Gulf defense and security affairs, with a focus on Iran-Iraq War military history, energy security and geopolitics, economic warfare, and oil and gas industries. He has a Master's degree in War Studies from King's College London and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Manchester. He lives in Washington, DC.

Milos Sipos is a Slovakian military historian. While pursuing a career in law, he has collected extensive documentation on inter-connected political, industrial, human resources and military-related affair in Iran, Iraq, and Syria. His core interest is a systematic approach to studies of their deep impacts upon combat efficiency and the general performance of local militaries. After more than 10 years of related work on the forum, he co-authored the much acclaimed book ‘Iraqi Mirages: The Dassault Mirage Family in Service with the Iraqi Air Force’. This is his second instalment for Helion.

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