- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2014

Iran appears to be getting ready to blow up an American aircraft carrier — of its own making.

Intelligence analysts have found evidence that the Middle Eastern nation has been building a giant mock carrier in the style of the Navy’s Nimitz-class ships, the New York Times reported. Satellite images of Iran’s Gachin shipyard show its construction near Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf last summer.

In addition to having a distinct likeness to the 1,100-foot-long carriers, the replica also has the Nimitz’s number 68 paint on its bow, the Times reported. Fake aircraft are also present in the satellite imagery.

“Based on our observations, this is not a functioning aircraft carrier; it’s a large barge built to look like an aircraft carrier,” said Cmdr. Jason Salata, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, across the Persian Gulf from Iran, told the Times. “We’re not sure what Iran hopes to gain by building this. If it is a big propaganda piece, to what end?”

An intelligence analyst told the Times that the ship could be blown up and used for propaganda purposes in case nuclear talks with the nation fall through, and Navy officials added that it could be used for training purposes.

“It is not surprising that Iranian military forces might use a variety of tactics — including military deception tactics — to strategically communicate and possibly demonstrate their resolve in the region,” an American official who has closely followed the construction of the fake ship told the Times.

SEE ALSO: U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with ‘Top Gun’-worthy stunt: ‘You really ought to go home’

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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