Iranian Navy's largest warship, 'Kharg' has sunk in the Gulf of Oman after it caught fire on Wednesday night at about 2:25 am. The accident occurred near the strategic port of Jask situated close to the Strait of Hormuz.
An official statement by the Iranian navy claimed that the exact source of the vicious fire onboard was still unknown but it had erupted from one of the systems, without any explanation or elaboration. It further stated all the crew members were safely evacuated with no reported casualties and despite continuous efforts to dodge the fire for 20 long hours 'Kharg' had finally sunk.
Kharg was the largest naval fleet replenishment tanker of Iran, often termed as 'a training ship' by the media. The ship is capable of transporting heavy cargo and serves as a launching pad for helicopters during naval exercises. When the incident occurred it was participating in one such training exercise in the Gulf of Oman.
The warship 'kharg' was originally built by Britain in 1977 and was commissioned by the Iranian navy in 1984 after lengthy negotiations. The vessel was to join an international naval exercise in a few days.
The occurring of the accident close to the port of Jask has raised many questions, particularly due to Iran's problematic relations with neighbor Israel, and the power tussle with America over the nuclear deal. Even though neither the Iranian Navy nor the state media have made any official statement regarding the incident being any sort of act of aggression, but several speculations are being made across the world.
Port of Jask has high strategic value to Iran as it plans to develop it as a major oil export terminal. Also fifth of the world's oil export passes through the Strait of Hormuz. An attack close to the port of Jask is certainly believed to further increase tensions amongst the countries.
Attacks on Iranian vessels have been on the rise in the recent past according to the Iranian navy, like theIranian freighter Saviz being hit by an unknown explosion in April in the Red sea, for which the Iranian navy accused its arch-enemy Israel. They claimed the vessel was attacked with limpet mines. Iran's tensions with the USA have also been on the rise with repeated accounts of confrontations of naval vessels in the region in the last several months.
In case of fire on board of 'Kharg', Iran is yet to draw any official conclusions but the accident is bound to have significant repercussions on the Iran-Israel rivalry and talks between Iran and the USA on abiding by the earlier abandoned nuclear deal according to diplomats.