March 26, 2014
The headline in The New York Times last Thursday promised intrigue and a bit of threat: “Iranian Ship, in Plain View but Shrouded in Mystery, Looks Very Familiar to U.S.”
So did the opening paragraphs of the story, fed to The Times’ Washington correspondent Eric Schmitt by US military and intelligence officials:
Iran is building a nonworking mock-up of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that United States officials say may be intended to be blown up for propaganda value.
Intelligence analysts studying satellite photos of Iranian military installations first noticed the vessel rising from the Gachin shipyard, near Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf, last summer. The ship has the same distinctive shape and style of the Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers, as well as the Nimitz’s number 68 neatly painted in white near the bow. Mock aircraft can be seen on the flight deck.
Schmitt reassured readers that this was not a “real” Iranian ship ready to challenge the US Navy — “Intelligence officials do not believe that Iran is capable of building an actual aircraft carrier” — but his military sources played up the drama and Iran’s devious plans: