The Iranian navy’s largest warship caught fire and sank Wednesday in the Gulf of Oman, according to reports.
The support warship Kharg sank under unclear circumstances near the Iranian port of Jask, about 790 miles southeast of Tehran, semiofficial news agencies reported.
Firefighters tried to contain the blaze, which ignited around 2:25 a.m., but efforts to save the Kharg – named after the island that serves as the main oil terminal for Iran – were unsuccessful, according to the Fars and Tasnim news agencies.
Sailors were captured evacuating the vessel as the fire burned behind them, photos posted on Iranian social media showed. Video published by Fars also showed thick, black smoke rising from the ship early Wednesday morning.
Iranian officials have yet to say what caused the blaze.
The Kharg – described by State TV and the semiofficial news agencies as a “training ship” – can lift heavy cargo and serve as a launch point for helicopters. It’s also one of the only vessels in the Iranian navy capable of providing replenishment at sea for its other ships. The ship was built in Britain and launched in 1977, before entering the Iranian navy in 1984.
Iran’s navy typically handles patrols in the Gulf of Oman and the wider seas, while the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard operates in the shallower waters of the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. 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.