Operation Morvarid

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Operation Morvarid
Part of Iran–Iraq War
Date28–29 November 1980
(1 day)
Parts of the Persian Gulf and Iraq

Decisive Iranian victory

  • Destruction of the oil terminals at Mina al-Bakr and Khor al-Amaya
  • Destruction of 80% of the Iraqi Navy
  • Blocking of the port of Al Faw
  • Destruction of many Iraqi oil installations, early warning bases and SAM sites
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran Flag of Iraq (1963-1991); Flag of Syria (1963-1972).svg Iraq
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Iran.svg Abulhassan Banisadr
(President of Iran)
Flag of Iran.svg M.Ebrahim Hemmati
Flag of Iran.svg Bahram Afzali
(Commander of Iranian Navy)
Flag of Iran.svg Mostafa Madani Nejad
(Commander of Task Force 421)
Flag of Iran.svg Javad Fakouri
(Minister of Defence)
Flag of Iraq (1963-1991); Flag of Syria (1963-1972).svg Saddam Hussein
(President of Iraq)
6 amphibious vessels
2 missile boats
Unknown number of marines and aircraft
8 torpedo boats
5 fast-attack craft
Unknown number of ground forces
8 MiG-23 and several MiG-21 fighters
Several-SAM sites
Casualties and losses
1 Missile boat sunk
1 F-4 Phantom downed
1 F-4 Phantom damaged
Unknown marine losses
5 Osa II boats sunk
4 P-6 boats sunk
1 Aérospatiale Super Frelon downed
6 MiG-23s downed
1 MiG-21 downed
Several SAM-sites destroyed
Several oil terminals destroyed
Unknown ground losses
The day of the operation (28 November 1980) is celebrated in Iran as "the Navy Day" [1]

Operation Morvarid (Persian : عملیات مروارید, meaning "Pearl") was an operation launched by the Iranian Navy and Air Force against the Iraqi Air Defence sites on 28 November 1980 in response to Iraq positioning radar and monitoring equipment on the Al-Bakr and Khor-al-Amaya oil rigs to counter Iranian air operations. The operation resulted in a victory for Iran, which managed to destroy both oil rigs as well as much of the Iraqi Navy and inflicted significant damage to Iraqi ports and airfields.


On 28 November 1980, after Iranian technicians prepared as many aircraft and helicopters as possible, Iranian F-4 Phantoms and F-5 Tiger IIs attacked Iraqi airfields around Basra. They managed to destroy one Iraqi MiG-21 Fishbed on the ground.

During the night of 29 November, six ships of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy's Task Force 421 deployed Iranian marines on the Iraqi oil terminals at Mina al Bakr and Khor-al-Amaya. The marines, supported by Army Aviation's AH-1J Cobras, Bell 214s and CH-47C Chinooks, eliminated most Iraqi defenders during a short firefight, then deployed a large number of bombs and mines. They were then evacuated by helicopter and left the Iraqi oil installations and early warning bases in flames.

At the same time, two Iranian Kaman-class (La Combattante IIa missile boats) (Paykan and Joshan) blockaded the ports of Al Faw and Umm Qasr, blocking 60 foreign ships and shelling both facilities.

In response, the Iraqi Navy deployed P-6 torpedo boats and Osa II-class fast attack craft for a counter attack. The boats engaged the two Iranian missile boats which managed to sink two Osas with Harpoon missiles. The remaining three Osa-class missile boats continued to attack the missile boat Paykan. The crew of the Paykan called IRIAF for assistance which sent two F-4s (each armed with six AGM-65 Maverick missiles). By the time they arrived, however, Paykan had been sunk after being hit by two Iraqi P-15 Termit missiles. In response, the F-4s targeted the remaining Iraqi ships and sunk three Osa IIs and four P-6s.

Soon another four Iranian F-4s arrived from Shiraz Air Base, bombed the port of Al Faw, and, together with F-5s, destroyed the surrounding Iraqi SAM sites. One Iranian F-4 was hit and damaged by an Iraqi SA-7 surface-to-air missile but managed to return to base.

At this time, the Iranian F-14 Tomcat formations joined the battle[ citation needed ] and, together with several F-4s, covered the withdrawal of Task Force 421 and bombed the Iraqi oil rigs, destroying an Iraqi Aérospatiale Super Frelon helicopter. Next, they attacked the Mina al Bakr terminal. The Iraqis scrambled seven MiG-23 Floggers to defend the terminal causing the Iranian F-4s to engage the Iraqi planes and down three MiG-23MS. One Iranian F-4 was also downed during the battle. Four Iraqi MiG-23BNs attacked Joshan, which managed to shoot two down with SA-7 missiles. Shortly after, an Iranian F-14 downed one of the two surviving MiGs, forcing the last MiG-23 to flee.


The destruction of Iraqi SAM sites and radar and monitoring equipment made it possible for the IRIAF to attack via southern Iraq again.

The Iranian missile boat Joshan which took part in this operation was later sunk during Operation Praying Mantis by U.S. Navy warships.

See also

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