The largest warship in the Iranian navy caught fire and later sank early Wednesday in the Gulf of Oman under unclear circumstances, multiple U.S. and Iranian outlets reported.
A fire was reported on the Kharg warship around 2:25 a.m. Wednesday morning and firefighters tried to contain it, according to Iranian semi-official news agency Fars. The vessel sank near the Iranian port of Jask in the Gulf of Oman, though no fatalities were reported and all 400 crew members on board disembarked before the ship went down.
“A 20-hour effort to extinguish the fire by the ship’s damage control team, which were joined by firefighting crews as well as military and civilian forces from other nearby vessels, failed to save Kharg,” an Iranian Navy spokesman told Fars. “Only 20 out of the 400 people on board received minor injuries.”
Video footage circulated on social media showed black smoke rising from the ship early Wednesday. Images shared on Iranian media platforms also showed sailors wearing life jackets evacuating the vessel, according to The Associated Press (AP).
Footage reportedly of #Iran’s Navy largest ship, the Kharg , burning this morning in the Gulf of Oman.
The vessel later sank (AP), in yet another mysterious incident/ disaster befalling Iran’s military:
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) June 2, 2021
Iranian officials have not identified a cause for the fire aboard the Kharg, which had been in service for forty years and used for logistical and training purposes, according to the AP. The Iranian Navy spokesman told Fars that an investigation has begun.
The incident is the latest in a series of mysterious explosions targeting commercial and military ships in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. had previously accused Iran of targeting ships with mines, according to the AP. Iran’s navy typically patrols in the Gulf of Oman, though the country’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) patrols nearby waters as well. (RELATED: Iran Reportedly Faces Another Mysterious Explosion)
Tensions have been rising in the Middle East in recent weeks, including between the U.S. and Iran. The U.S. Coast Guard fired warning shots at a group of IRGC boats in early May for conducting “unprofessional” maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. Navy previously fired warning shots at Iranian ships patrolling the Persian Gulf in late April.