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

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

The port city of Jask, near which the Kharg went down, lies close to the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic chokepoint at the head of the Gulf through which a fifth of world oil output passes.

A local army official told the semi-official Tasnim news agency that 20 people suffered minor burns.

An image taken late at night showed crew in life jackets running away with a fire raging behind them.

The largest warship in the Iranian navy caught fire and later sank Wednesday in the Gulf of Oman under unclear circumstances, semiofficial news agencies reported. All crew on board were able to flee the burning ship and were transferred to safety on the coast.

The military vessel was being deployed to global waters for a training naval operation when one of its systems caught fire near the port of Jask.

This photo made available by Asriran.com on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, shows personnel standing on Iran's navy support ship Kharg after being caught on fire in the Gulf of Oman.

The Kharg, Iran's largest naval vessel by tonnage and one of a very limited number of replenishment ships in the Iranian navy, was built in the United Kingdom ain the late 1970s and had been in service for roughly four decades before it was lost Wednesday.

Iran has refused to recognise Israel since its Islamic Revolution in 1979 that toppled the US -backed Shah. In recent months, however, the navy launched a slightly larger commercial tanker called the Makran it converted into serving a similar function as the Kharg.

Iranian officials have given no reason for why the fire started, but the incident is reportedly under investigation.

The fire occurred after a series of mysterious explosions that began in 2019 targeting ships in the Gulf of Oman.

The incidents came amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran after then-president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

In April, Iran accused Israel of being behind a blast using underwater mines that damaged its military vessel MV Saviz in the Red Sea. It escalated a yearslong shadow war in Mideast waters between the two countries.

Last year, an Iranian naval vessel mistakenly hit another with a missile during a training exercise near Jask, killing 19 sailors and wounding 15 others.

Tehran offered no cause for the fire, however the ship's loss marks the latest in a string of naval disasters for Iran going back to 2018 when an Iranian navy destroyer sank in the Caspian Sea.

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