Iran’s largest warship catches fire, sinks in Gulf of Oman

Marco Green
June 2, 2021

The Kharg, named after an island nearby that serves as a key oil terminal, caught fire in the early hours of Wednesday local time and more than 20 hours of rescue operations failed to save it, the army said.

The Kharg was being deployed to global waters for training operations when one of its systems caught fire, according to the Iranian Navy.

Iran's largest navy ship the Kharg sank on Wednesday after catching fire in the Gulf of Oman, but the crew were safely rescued, Iranian media reported.

Footage aired by Iranian state television showed a massive column of smoke rising from what it said was the naval supply vessel Kharg on fire before it sank in the Gulf of Oman.

Photos circulated on Iranian social media of sailors wearing life jackets evacuating the vessel as a fire burned behind them.

"All efforts to save the vessel were unsuccessful and it sank", the Fars news agency reported, according to Reuters.

Iran's ISNA news agency said its mission had focused on "training, intelligence and combat" alongside the destroyer Alborz. Photos and videos shared online show the entire ship out at sea engulfed in thick black smoke.

It was not delivered until 1984 after years of wrangling between Britain and the government that took power after the Islamic revolution of 1979.

The vessel eventually went down near the Iranian port of Jask, some 790 miles southeast of Tehran on the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz - the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf. It's also one of the only vessels in the Iranian navy capable of providing replenishment at sea for its other ships.

The army official told Tasnim that much of its equipment had been overhauled by Iranian engineers in recent years.

"It is not the IRIN's largest vessel any more after they commissioned Makran, a converted oil tanker, in January".

Though officials have not offered a cause for the fire, it comes after a series of mysterious explosions that began in 2019 targeting ships in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. Navy later accused Iran of targeting the ships with limpet mines, timed explosives typically attached by divers to a vessel's hull. The incidents came amid heightened tensions between the USA and Iran after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. It escalated a yearslong shadow war in Mideast waters between the two countries.

Last year, an Iranian warship was hit by friendly fire during a naval exercise off Jask, killing the 19 sailors onboard.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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