The largest warship in the Iranian navy caught fire on Wednesday and later sank in the Gulf of Oman. The reason for what caused the fire is unclear and all efforts to save the support ship ‘Kharg’ have failed.
Terrifying visuals of the 679-foot support ship burning in the middle of the sea with a huge smoke column have emerged on social media.
BREAKING 🚨 Largest ship in the Iran’s navy “Kharg” caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Oman pic.twitter.com/Rs5oZUI3B0— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) June 2, 2021
As per the Fars and Tasnim news agencies, the fire broke out around 2:25 am, but even after hours, the firefighters could not contain the blaze. Eventually, the vessel which was on a training mission sank near the Iranian port of Jask, 1,270 kilometers southeast of Tehran in the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz.
Reuters reported that the entire crew was able to disembark safely, however, the firefighting efforts went on for 20 hours before the ship sank.
Named after the island that serves as the main oil terminal for Iran, Kharg was built in Britain and launched in 1977. The vessel entered the Iranian navy in 1984 only after lengthy negotiations that followed Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
It was one of the vessels that was capable of replenishing other ships at the sea and could lift heavy cargo and served as a launch point for helicopters.
Iran’s navy is typically responsible for patrols in the Gulf of Oman and the wider seas, while the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard operates in the shallow waters of the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf.
Iranian officials offered no reason for fire
The Iranian officials have given no explanation for the cause of the fire. However, as per reports, the mysterious blaze on Kharg comes after a series of mysterious explosions targeting ships in the Gulf of Oman began in 2019.
The US Navy in fact accused Iran of targeting the ships with limpet mine (timed explosives typically attached by divers to a vessel’s hull). While Iran denies the claims, the US Navy had footage showing members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing one unexploded limpet mine from a vessel.
Such incidents have been on a rise since tensions between the US and Iran began to mount after USA’s former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from Tehran’s nuclear deal with the world powers.
Similar incidents involving the Iranian Navy
In April, an Iranian ship called the MV Saviz which was believed to be a Guard base and anchored for years in the Red Sea off Yemen was targeted in an attack allegedly carried out by Israel.
During an Iranian military training exercise in 2020, a missile mistakenly struck a naval vessel near the port of Jask, killing 19 sailors and injuring 15.
Similarly, in 2018, an Iranian navy destroyer had sunk in the Caspian Sea.