Iran's largest navy ship, the Kharg, caught fire early Wednesday morning and sank near Jask, an Iranian port on the Gulf of Oman, Iran's semiofficial news agencies report. After an hours-long rescue effort, the crew was safely evacuated, the Fars news agency said, but "all efforts to save the vessel were unsuccessful and it sank." Iranian officials did not offer any explanation for the fire.
The Kharg, built in Britain and launched in 1977, was one of the few Iranian navy vessels capable of replenishing other ships at sea. It could also be used to launch helicopters and lift heavy cargo, The Associated Press reports. Iran's navy has suffered a series of mishaps in the past couple of years, including its sinking of one of its own naval vessels during a 2020 training exercise. Other explosions on ships in the Gulf of Oman since 2019 are believed to be part of the shadow war between Iran and Israel, each accusing the other of attacking ships with limpet mines.