Iran has issued a stark warning to the United States against targeting two cargo ships, the Behshad and Saviz, which have long been under suspicion as forward observation posts for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). These ships, linked to a U.S.-sanctioned Tehran-based company, are believed to be engaged in activities that support Houthi rebels, including potential arms smuggling and intelligence gathering.
Previously, the Saviz was pinpointed by Saudi Arabia in 2017 as an IRGC maritime base, emphasizing its military rather than commercial role. Adding to the controversy, the Iranian army released a video on Sunday labeling these vessels as “floating armories,” meant to assist Iran’s counter piracy operations. This characterization came alongside observations from the Open-source Intelligence (OSINT) group Aurora Intel, which has kept tabs on the Behshad’s stationary position in the Red Sea, who found that the ships where regularly shadowed my Iranian Navy vessels. The behavior has raised suspicions about its true purpose, with Aurora Intel questioning the frequent small boat traffic to and from the Behshad, suggesting it is “moving people, not cargo,” according to a report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The Behshad’s recent activation of its AIS transponder and its movement toward the Gulf of Aden have coincided with a surge in Houthi attacks in the region. This shift, as reported by the maritime intelligence service MariTrace, sparks debate regarding the ship’s level of involvement in these incidents. Security experts are increasingly convinced that these vessels are not just passively observing but are actively assisting Houthi rebels with targeting information.