Barrow warship still fit for duty after almost 50 years

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6 September 2017 2:46PM

A pair of warships launched at Barrow are still working for a living after almost 50 years.

The Zaal and Rostam have had new names and equipment through the decades but remain in service for the Iranian government.

The frigate Zaal was built at Vickers and launched at Barrow on March 4 in 1969.

The launch ceremony was carried out by the Iranian Ambassador and by the magic of techonology Barrow also hosted the launch of Rostam - even though the ship was at Newcastle.

The front page of The Mail on launch day noted: "A bottle of water was used today to launch a destroyer for the Iranian Navy at Vickers shipyard, Barrow.

"Although wine is traditionally used for launchings in British shipyards, Golabwater specially distilled from an equally special Iranian rose, was substituted for today's ceremony and a second launching at Walker shipyard on the Tyne.

"Four hours after the warship Zaal slipped into the water at Barrow, Mr Abbas Aram, Iranian Ambassador, was launching the second destroyer Rostam by remote control."

The ambassador was pictured at Barrow by The Mail exchanging gifts with Pat Ogilvie, of the Vickers Technical Publications Department.

A blessing for Zaal was provided by Imnan Khorosini.

It was named after a mythical warrior of ancient Iran but was renamed as Alborz in 1985 after a mountain - after the major changes resulting from the Islamic Revolution.

The ship was 1,540 tons with a full load and was 310ft (94.5m) in length.

Vickers at Barrow and the Walker yard at Newcastle shared the work on sister ship Rostam, later called Sabalan.

The two ships were later pictured at Barrow side-by-side in the fitting out berth in Buccleuch Dock.

Two matching frigates, Saam and Faramarz, were built by Vosper Thornycroft at Southampton.

During the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980 the United States provided armed escorts for Kuwait oil tankers.

And in 1988 an Iranian sea mine exploded against the side of the USS Roberts and blew a 15ft hole in the side.

The United States retaliated in Operation Praying Mantis and sank the Sahand and damaged the Sabalan.

Sabalan was refitted and returned to duty.

Upgrades have seen the original Sea Killer missile system replaced with Chinese C-802 cruise missiles.

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