Tehran, Iran – One of Iran’s largest navy ships has sunk after catching fire under unclear circumstances near the Strait of Hormuz.
The Kharg, named after an island nearby that serves as a key oil terminal, caught fire in the early hours of Wednesday local time and more than 20 hours of rescue operations failed to save it, the army said.
An image taken late at night showed crew in life jackets running away with a fire raging behind them. Another image, taken in daytime, showed heavy smoke billowing to the sky and fire still burning.
Iran’s army also identified the Kharg as a “training ship” and confirmed there were almost 400 crew and trainees on board, before adding all of them were safely evacuated.
روابط عمومی منطقه دوم دریایی جاسک اعلام کرد در پی حریق در شناور خارک و پس از انتقال کارکنان به ساحل، با وجود ۲۰ ساعت تلاش همه جانبه به دلیل گسترش آتش در بخشهای مختلف، عملیات نجات شناور پشتیبانی آموزشی خارک بینتیجه ماند و این شناور در آبهای محدوده جاسک آرام گرفت. pic.twitter.com/8J6y1Mhqi6
— خبرگزاری فارس (@FarsNews_Agency) June 2, 2021
Translation: PR of the second maritime district of Jask has announced that after a fire broke out at the Kharg vessel and personnel were moved to the beach, the rescue operation for the training vessel failed after 20 hours of all-out work due to the spreading of the fire and the vessel rested in the Jask waters.
A local army official told the semi-official Tasnim news agency that 20 people suffered minor burns.
No reason was provided for the cause of the fire but an army official told Iran’s IRNA the fire started in the engine room and parts of the ship’s body melted and fell into the sea.
The vessel sank close to the port of Jask in the south of the country, about 1,270km (790 miles) southeast of the capital Tehran and near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway.
The vessel was built in Britain and launched shortly before Iran’s 1979 Revolution and entered the Iranian navy in 1984 after several years of negotiations.
The army official told Tasnim that much of its equipment had been overhauled by Iranian engineers in recent years.
It was capable of providing replenishment at sea to help other ships, could lift heavy cargo and also had launch and landing pads for helicopters.
The Kharg’s sinking marks the latest big naval incident for Iran in recent years.
Last year, a missile was mistakenly fired during a military training exercise at sea, killing 19 sailors and wounding 15 others.
An Iranian navy destroyer also sank in the Caspian Sea in 2018.