Iran’s largest warship, the Kharg, caught fire off the coast of Oman and sunk early on Wednesday morning under mysterious circumstances.
The Associated Press reported the fire aboard the Iranian warship, began at around 2:55 a.m. near the Iranian port of Jask, and firefighters tried but failed to control the fire. Some 400 troops were reportedly on board and evacuated, with around 20 suffering injuries.
“Video reportedly of #Iran|ian Navy IRIS Kharg this morning burning and sunken approx. 6 miles off of Jask Port. FIRMS data has a hotspot around 25.652726,57.640181,” Aurora Intel tweeted with footage purporting to show the blaze abord the Iranian ship.
The 207-meter (679-foot) Kharg was a modified version of an OI-class fleet replenishment oiler like those used by the United Kingdom’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The ship, obtained by Iran in 1984, was operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) and was the largest ship in Iran’s fleet by tonnage.
Iran Affairs editor Mohamad Ahwaze wrote in Arabic, “The Kharg logistic barge, which is the most important military barge in the Iranian navy, is completely sinking near the Gulf of Oman.”
Reuters shared a photo of the still-burning Kharg as it sank into the Gulf of Oman. “Iran’s largest navy ship the Kharg sank today after catching fire in the Gulf of Oman, but the crew were safely rescued, Iranian media reported.”
BBC journalist Alistair Coleman tweeted additional photos of the ship burning, as well as images of crew members in life-jackets. Coleman wrote, “Iran’s state news agency IRNA confirms that logistics vessel IRIS Kharg – the largest ship in their navy – sank after catching fire. No casualties reported.”
The fire and subsequent sinking of the Kharg come after several other Iranian vessels have suffered mysterious damage in recent months.
In April, the Iranian cargo ship Saviz was damaged in an apparent mine blast while it was operating in the Red Sea. In March, the Iranian cargo ship Shahr E Kord was damaged by an unspecified explosive. In both cases, the cargo ships suffered minimal damage and were able to continue sailing.
Israel has been suspected in past attacks on Iranian ships but has denied past mysterious attacks on Iranian ships.
The sinking of the Kharg does come about two weeks after fighting between Israel and Hamas came to a halt. The Wall Street Journal reported Iran has supplied the Hamas terror group with technical expertise and instructions for building rockets like the hundreds it recently fired at Israel in recent weeks.