TEHRAN -- An Iranian navy vessel sank in the Gulf of Oman due to a fire that broke out during a training mission, the Islamic Republic of Iran Army said on Wednesday.
Crew of the Kharg vessel were safely transferred to the coast but the ship sank off the Iranian port of Jask after 20 hours of operations to put out the blaze, according to an army statement on its website.
The fire broke out in “one of the systems” of the ship, a navy statement said without elaborating. Firefighting efforts continued “for 20 hours” before the ship went down.
The ship’s crew all safely disembarked. “Considering the spread of the fire, the mission to save the Kharg failed and it sank in waters off Jask,” the navy said.
The Kharg was used as a support and training vessel by Iran’s navy for over four decades, it said.
The vessel dated back to before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. The warship, built in Britain and launched in 1977, entered the Iranian navy in 1984 after lengthy negotiations.
The incident took place during training in the Gulf of Oman, a sensitive waterway that connects to the Strait of Hormuz through which about a fifth of the world’s oil passes. Iran regularly conducts exercises in the area.
The statement did not give the cause of the fire.
Jask is also important to Iran’s economy as the site where the government plans to build the country’s second-largest oil export terminal.
A 1,000-kilometre pipeline from Bushehr province on the Gulf to Jask was put into service just days ago, the government said. It will provide a new bypass route for oil exports avoiding the Strait of Hormuz.
The port city of Jask, near which the Kharg went down, lies close to the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic chokepoint at the head of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of world oil output passes.
It provides a new bypass route for Iranian oil exports avoiding the Strait of Hormuz.