Iran's largest warship catches fire, sinks

The Iranian navy’s largest warship erupted in flames on Wednesday before sinking in the Gulf of Oman, according to state media reports. 

The Associated Press reported that the semiofficial Fars and Tasnim news agencies in Iran reported that the ship sank near the port of Jask, located about 790 miles southeast of Tehran, despite attempts by firefighters to save the vessel. 

While the warship Kharg, named after the island that serves as Iran’s main oil terminal, did not escape the flames, Reuters reported that emergency responders were able to safely rescue the ship’s crew. 

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The cause of the fire is unknown, though state media reported that it began around 2:25 a.m. in the Persian Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz, where it was conducting a training mission. 

Fars published video of thick, black smoke rising from the ship Wednesday morning, and satellite photos from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration detected a fire at the Jask port starting shortly before the blaze was reported by state media. 

Fars reported that “all efforts to save the vessel were unsuccessful and it sank," according to Reuters. 

The Kharg, which was built in Britain and entered the Iranian navy in 1984 following Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, served as one of few ships held by Iran capable of providing replenishment and support for other vessels while at sea, according to the AP.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the United States was "aware of the loss of one of their ships by fire," but was not able to offer further details.

"Our understanding is that this was a replenishment ship in the Iranian state navy," Kirby said. "As for the impact on their fleet, we wouldn't be in a position to be able to speak to that with any great specificity. I think that's something more for the Iranians to speak to."

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The mysterious explosion and sinking of the support ship comes after Iran, in April, accused Israeli forces of attacking an Iranian military ship that had been linked to alleged spying activities by the Iranian government. 

A U.S. official at the time said that Israel had notified the U.S. that they had attacked the vessel as a retaliatory measure following earlier strikes on Israeli vessels by Iranian forces. 

Israel and Iran since 2019 have engaged in back-and-forth attacks on ships traveling through the eastern Mediterranean and Red seas.

Updated at 3:26 p.m.