Iran's largest warship catches fire and sinks in Gulf of Oman

Lula Sharp
June 2, 2021

Tasnim, which described Kharg as a logistics-training vessel, said all 400 crew and trainees aboard had been evacuated with 20 people hospitalized with minor burns. Satellites from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that track fires from space detected a blaze at the site of the Jask that started just before the time of the fire reported by Fars.

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

Like much of Iran's major military hardware, the Kharg dated back to before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The Kharg was one of Iran's few ships capable of replenishing other ships while at sea. It could also be used to launch helicopters and lift heavy cargo, The Associated Press reports.

One of the Iranian Navy's largest support vessels, the Kharg, sank on Tuesday in the Gulf of Oman.

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"What was shown today in these exercises, at the level of aerospace and naval forces, was all offensive", Iran's Revolutionary Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami told state television in the days before the fake wooden carrier sank. An American official said Israel had called the attack retaliation for earlier alleged Iranian strikes on Israeli vessels. It comes after a series of mysterious explosions that began in 2019 targeting commercial 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 shipping incidents have occurred since U.S. President Joe Biden took office in January, pledging to rejoin Iran's 2015 nuclear containment deal with six world powers - abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump in a move welcomed by Israel - if Tehran returns to full compliance with the accord.

Saviz, a ship operated by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, was attacked, possibly by a limpet mine, in the Red Sea on April 6 off the coast of Eritrea. It escalated a yearslong shadow war in Mideast waters between the two countries.

The blaze began aboard the Kharg, named after the island that serves as the main oil terminal for Iran, at around 2:25 a.m. and firefighters tried to contain it, the Fars news agency said.

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

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