According to reports, the Iranian Navy’s largest vessel became ablaze and then mysterious sunk below the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday.
Per some news organizations, the support warship Kharg drowned near the Iranian port of Jack, about 790 miles southeast of Tehran and under mysterious circumstances.
According to the Fars and Tasnim news agencies, firefighters attempted to put out the fire that started at 2:25 a.m. Although, efforts to save the Kharg – named for the island that serves as Iran’s primary oil terminal – were futile.
Photos released on Iranian social media showed sailors evacuating the ship while the fire blazed behind them. Fars tweeted a video early Wednesday morning that showed dense, black smoke billowing from the ship.
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
The Kharg, dubbed a “training ship” by state TV and other news sources, can transport heavy cargo and act as a helicopter launch pad. It’s also one of the Iranian Navy’s only ships capable of replenishing its other ships while at sea. The ship was built in the United Kingdom and launched in 1977 before being transferred to the Iranian Navy in 1984.
The Iranian Navy patrols the Gulf of Oman and the surrounding seas while the Revolutionary Guard operates in the shallower waters of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
However, the Navy just launched the Makran, a slightly larger commercial tanker that was adapted to serve a similar duty as the Kharg.
Biggest ship in Iran's navy catches fire and sinks unclear circumstances, semiofficial Iranian news agencies say https://t.co/PZNxIJ0jME
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 2, 2021
Iran has a History of Mining the Straits
The fire broke out following a series of strange explosions in the Gulf of Oman that began in 2019. The US Navy later stated that Iran used limpet mines, which are timed explosives normally placed to a ship’s hull by divers.
Despite videotape from the US Navy showing Revolutionary Guard members removing one unexploded limpet mine from a vessel, Iran denied targeting the ships.
The episodes occurred at a time when tensions between the United States and Iran were at an all-time high; this happened after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled America out of the Iran nuclear deal with world powers.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) June 2, 2021
In April, an Iranian ship called the MV Savitz (which had been stranded in the Red Sea off Yemen for years and was thought to be a Guard base) was attacked by Israel. It intensified a years-long shadow conflict between the two countries in Mideast waters.
Tensions With the US
Last Month US warships fired warning shots at armed Iranian speedboats that got within 150 yards of the American flotilla in the Strait of Hormuz on Monday, according to US officials.
According to US Naval Forces Central Command, two Iranian speedboats armed with machine guns broke away from a group of 13 Iranian craft; they then raced toward the US formation at a high rate of speed.