CAIRO — Iran’s largest Navy ship sank on Wednesday after catching hearth within the Gulf of Oman close to a serious transport lane, a semiofficial Iranian information company reported. It was the newest in a sequence of explosions, fires and different mishaps at Iranian navy and nuclear infrastructure in current months, simply as Iran and america started negotiating a doable return to the 2015 nuclear settlement.
The Tasnim information company, citing a press release from Iran’s navy, mentioned that the ship, the Kharg, had been deployed to worldwide waters to take part in a naval train when “considered one of its techniques” caught hearth. The Kharg, which Tasnim described as a “coaching and logistical ship,” had been in service for greater than 40 years and was routinely included in coaching operations, the information company mentioned.
Army and civilian crews battled the hearth for 20 hours earlier than the ship sank off the coast of the southern port of Jask, Tasnim reported. The crew members managed to evacuate after the hearth broke out and had been transferred to shore, the report famous, suggesting that there have been no casualties.
However for Iran, mysterious naval incidents have not often remained simply that. And the timing — as Iran and america are again on the negotiating desk, discussing whether or not to as soon as once more elevate American sanctions in change for limiting Iran’s nuclear and different navy actions — has raised alarm.
Iran has many regional foes who’re leery of renewing such a deal, together with Israel, which has tacitly acknowledged accountability for a number of current assaults on Iranian nuclear services and the brazen killing of a prime nuclear scientist, and Gulf international locations such because the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
The Iranian port of Jask sits on the Gulf of Oman close to the Strait of Hormuz, an important transport lane that results in the Persian Gulf. It’s an space the place the fraught relations between Iran, america and its allies have performed out: Starting in 2019, ships within the Gulf of Oman suffered a sequence of maritime guerrilla assaults, crippling business oil tankers and spooking worldwide oil markets.
America mentioned that the assaults had been a tacit risk by Tehran to dam the transport artery and accused it of concentrating on the ships with limpet mines, even releasing a video that confirmed members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps eradicating an unexploded mine from a vessel. Iran denied attacking the ships.
But Iran additionally has a historical past of naval disasters which are apparently unrelated to exterior enemies. Throughout a navy coaching train final 12 months, a missile from an Iranian frigate mistakenly struck one other ship close to the identical port, Jask, killing at the least 19 sailors and wounding 15.
The Kharg, additionally spelled Khark in English, serves as a naval replenishment ship and is Iran’s largest vessel by tonnage weight, in response to an evaluation of Iran’s navy.