The largest Iranian Navy warship caught fire and later sank in the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday under unclear circumstances.
The Fars news agency reported that the fire started at around 2:25 pm and firefighters tried to control it, but their efforts failed to save the 207 m Kharag, which was used to resupply and train other ships in the fleet at sea. was done to practice.
State media reported that 400 sailors and trainee cadets aboard the ship fled the ship, injuring 33.
The ship sank near the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, near the Strait of Hormuz on the Gulf of Oman, about 1,270 km southeast of Tehran, near the Iranian port of Zask.
Satellite photos from Planet Labs Inc., analyzed by The Associated Press, showed Kharag of Jask with no signs of fire as of 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Photos of sailors wearing life-jackets were circulated on Iranian social media as a fire burned behind them. Fars published a video of thick, dark smoke billowing out of the ship early Wednesday.
reason not clear
U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites tracking fires from space detected a fire near Jask just before the time of the fires reported by Fars.
Iranian officials did not give a reason for the fire in Kharag, although they said an investigation had begun.
Meanwhile, a massive fire broke out at an oil refinery serving the Iranian capital on Wednesday night, sending a plume of black smoke over Tehran. It was not immediately clear whether the Tondguyan Petrochemical Company suffered injuries or what caused the fire, although temperatures in the capital reached around 40 °C and hot summer weather in Iran had caused fires in the past.
The fire on Wednesday on the Kharag warship comes after a series of mysterious explosions that began in 2019 targeting commercial ships in the Gulf of Oman. The US Navy later accused Iran of targeting ships with lame mines, timed explosives usually attached to a ship’s hull by divers.
Iran denies the allegation, though US Navy footage shows members of the Revolutionary Guard removing a Unexploded lumpet mine from a ship.
The attacks came amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran after former US President Donald Trump US unilaterally withdraws from Tehran nuclear deal with world powers in 2018. Negotiations are on in Vienna to save the agreement.
In April, an Iranian cargo ship called the MV Saviz, believed to be a Revolutionary Guard base and anchored for years in the Red Sea off Yemen, was targeted in an attack On which Iran was suspected of being carried out by Israel.
This escalated a year-long shadow war in the Middle East between the two countries.
State TV and semi-official news agencies on Wednesday referred to Kharag, named after the island that serves as the main oil terminal for Iran, as a “training ship”. The ship often hosted cadets of the Imam Khomeini Naval University on the Caspian Sea.
Aging Military Hardware
Like most of Iran’s major military hardware, the kharag predates Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Built in Britain and launched in 1977, the warship entered the Iranian Navy in 1984 after long negotiations.
In recent months, the Navy converted a slightly larger commercial tanker called the Makran to be used as a mobile launch platform for helicopters. Kharag could also launch helicopters on a small scale.
But the new vessel likely may not fill the role of Kharg, which can handle both refueling and refueling supplies of ships at sea, said Mike Connell of the Center for Naval Analysis, by an Arlington, VA-based consortium. funded non-profit that works for the US government.
The Kharag was also seaworthy enough to travel east to the Mediterranean Sea and South Asia via the Suez Canal and could lift heavy goods.
“For the regular Iranian Navy, this vessel was very valuable because it gave them access,” Connell said. “This allowed them to operate far and wide. They have other logistics ships, but the Kharag was the most capable and largest.”
The sinking of Kharag marks the latest naval disaster for Iran.
During the Iranian military training exercise in 2020, A missile accidentally collided with a naval ship near Jaski, 19 sailors were killed and 15 were injured.
Also in 2018, an Iranian naval destroyer sank in the Caspian Sea.
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