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Iran's largest warship sinks after massive fire

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Photo by Anton Raharjo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iran's largest warship, the Kharg, sank after catching fire in the early hours Wednesday morning, Sky News reported.

According to the Associated Press, the 679-foot ship sank despite firefighters' valiant efforts to contain the blaze.

What are the details?

The ship, which was stationed in the Gulf of Oman for a training mission, caught fire around 2:25 a.m. Wednesday.

Photos on social media captured the moment sailors were forced to evacuate the ship as it sank near the port of Jask, near the Strait of Hormuz.

"All efforts to save the vessel were unsuccessful and it sank," Iran's semi-official Fars news agency said in a Wednesday statement on the disaster.

Iranian state media have yet to issue an official explanation for the sinking of the massive vessel, but Sky News reported that the sinking took place in an area in which there have been "accusations of attacks on ships owned by archenemies Iran and Israel."

In April, Iranian ship Saviz was reportedly targeted with "limpet mines" while it was in the Red Sea. The outlet noted that both Iran and Israel have blamed the other for cargo ship attacks since February.

Sky News reported, "The sinking is the latest in a number of recent naval disasters for Iran. A missile fired during a training exercise in 2020 mistakenly hit a ship — also near the port of Jask, killing 19 sailors; and in 2018 one of its destroyers sank in the Caspian Sea."

According to the Associated Press, Wednesday's disaster "follows a series of mysterious explosions that began in 2019" and appeared to target commercial ships in the Gulf of Oman.

From the report:

Iran denied that, though U.S. Navy footage showed Revolutionary Guard members removing one unexploded limpet mine from a ship. The attacks came amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. Negotiations on saving the accord continue in Vienna.

In April, an Iranian ship called the MV Saviz believed to be a Guard base and anchored for years in the Red Sea off Yemen was targeted in an attack suspected to have been carried out by Israel. It escalated a yearslong shadow war in the Mideast between the two countries, ranging from strikes in Syria, assaults on ships and attacks on Iran's nuclear program.

State media reported that 400 sailors and trainee cadets on board the vessel evacuated. At least 33 people were injured in connection with the fire and subsequent sinking.

Mike Connell of the Center for Naval Analysis in Arlington, Virginia, said that the Iranian navy's loss is great.

"For the regular Iranian navy, this vessel was very valuable because it gave them reach," Connell told the Associated Press. "That allowed them to conduct operations far afield. They do have other logistics vessels, but the Kharg was kind of the most capable and the largest."

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