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IRGC linked cargo ship headed to Venezuela as showdown between Iran & the U.S. Navy heats up again.

The Iranian flagged M.V. Golsan, a general cargo ship that yesterday loaded 1000 containers at the Rajaei Port near Bandar Abbas Iran and has now set to sail to Venezuela. The Golsan is the same ship that previously arrived in Venezuela back in mid June with products for the new “Megasis” market in Caracas. Later before returning to Iran, it sailed to Guayana City where it was loaded with a cargo of Alumina.

While the social media account that posted the video and images of the ship loading expressly stated they were withholding the name of the ship, ostensibly for security reasons, the video itself was full of details that made identifying the ship fairly easy. The first clue was the above statement that "you know this ship." As there have not been any other cargo ships travel to Venezuela from Iran recently I immediately thought of the Golsan. I started by looking for images of the M.V Golsan with the cargo areas open as this is how we see the ship in the video. While the cranes on the ship are not unique themselves, indeed all ships of this type have them, there are unique characteristics on them that I have documented below in a comparison of an older image of the Golsan and a frame from the video posted today to social media.

Having already found that the ship in questions bears a striking resemblance to the Golsan I next checked MarineTraffic.com to see where the Golsan's AIS locator said it was in the world currently. I was pleased to find that it was indeed at a pier in the Bandar Abbas port area of Iran, so I proceeded to look for physical features in the video which I could match up with those on pier that the Golsan was currently sitting at and thus further support my hypothesis.

Again I was not disappointed, and found there were many features of the pier, cranes, breakwater and lights that I could pick out from the video and match up with satellite images.

I can conclude with a high degree of confidence the ship in the video is the M.V. Golsan and that it will be making a trip to Venezuela. This is significant because unlike the oil ships that Iran has been dispatching to Venezuela recently this type of cargo ship could be carrying just about anything, including Iranian weapons systems.

Recently both Iran & Venezuela watchers have been keeping a close eye on the growing cooperation between the 2 pariah states. While largely dismissed as theatre or propaganda intended to placate each's domestic supporters, increasingly indications are that serious military cooperation is being prioritized despite both states being short on foreign exchange capital. Last week in a press conference Regime boss Nicolas Maduro announced that Venezuela would begin building the Iranian Mohajer-6 Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV). Since then there has been speculation that flights between the 2 countries were carrying parts for assembly. I think this is unlikely as its too soon after the announcement and more likely is related importing parts for the ongoing attempts to repair the Amuay and Cardón refineries. This news also comes just a few months after Maduro confirmed that he has directed his Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino López to begin the process of acquiring ballistic missiles from the Iranian regime.

We will continue to monitor the M.V Golsan as it makes its way around Africa and towards Venezuela. The U.S. Navy is known to be operating off the coastal waters of Venezuela and considering the possible cargo on the ship, I think a detailed inspection is a very good idea.

Written By: Simon Bolivar

Images and Data from: MarineTraffic.com & CSIS.org