Tehran. An Iranian warship was the victim of friendly fire during naval exercises in the Gulf of Oman, an “accident” that killed 19 sailors, according to state media reported on Monday, in a context of tension with the United States in waters of the Gulf
“On Sunday afternoon, during an exercise by navy ships in the waters of Jask and Chabahar, the light support ship ‘Konarak’ had an accident,” the army portal said in a statement.
“The ship was hit after moving a practice target and not getting far enough away,” said the source.
Nineteen people died in the accident, and 15 others were injured, according to the statement.
The ship was towed to port to carry out a “technical investigation”, he added, and asked to “avoid speculation” until more information is available.
According to Iranian state television and Tasnim news agency, the “Konarak” was “hit with a missile” launched by another Iranian ship.
The ship was hit by “friendly fire” after the “Jamaran” frigate accidentally fired missiles during a military exercise in the Jask area in the Persian Gulf waters, according to Tasnim.
The “Konarak” is a lightweight logistical support vessel manufactured in the Netherlands and purchased by Iran shortly before the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The ship weighed 447 tons, measured 47 meters in length and was equipped with four cruise missiles, according to state television.
Voltage with EU
The 15 wounded seafarers were hospitalized in Sistan and Baluchistan, according to Mohammad-Mehran Aminifard, director of the province’s University of Medicine. Two of the seafarers are in intensive care, said the semi-official Isna agency
It is not known how many crew members were on board the ship at the time of the accident.
Iran and its arch enemy the United States have had several incidents and crossed threats among their forces present in the highly sensitive Gulf waters.
The latest incident occurred on April 15, when Washington reported that Iranian ships “harassed” its ships in those waters.
US President Donald Trump tweeted that he had ordered his country’s Navy “to shoot down and destroy any Iranian warship if it harasses our ships at sea.”
Tensions between the two countries have soared since 2018, when Trump withdrew the United States from the multinational agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, and re-imposed severe economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The Iranian armed forces mistakenly shot down a Boeing 737 commercial jet bound for Kiev last January, shortly after taking off from Tehran, killing its 176 occupants.
The Iranian military admitted its catastrophic mistake, claiming that the country’s anti-aircraft defenses were on high alert after launching a battery of missiles against US troops stationed in Iraq.
Iran launched those missiles in retaliation for the murder days earlier by the United States of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, killed near Baghdad airport by drone bombing.