Friendly fire in Iranian seas kills 19 sailors
On Sunday, several Iranian vessels were involved in training manoeuvres near the port of Jask in the Gulf of Oman, close to the strategically important Strait of Hormuz. This was when a friendly fire incident was reported involving a light support vehicle and an Iranian-made frigate which resulted in the deaths of 19 sailors and injuries in 15 others.
“On Sunday afternoon, during an exercise by a number of the navy’s vessels in Jask and Chabahar waters, the Konarak light support vessel had an accident, causing the martyrdom of a number of brave members of the naval forces,” went a statement on the army’s website. Commander in Chief of the Iranian Army Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi reached out to the bereaved families with his sympathies and condolences, as did the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps.
According to reports in the state television, the Konarak – a Hendijan-class support ship made in the Netherlands and bought by Iran before the 1979 revolution – was placing targets in the water for other ships to fire on when it was accidentally hit. It is not known how many people were on board when the incident occurred.
The missile was fired by Iran’s Moudge-class frigate Jamaran, an indigenous ship that was much-touted to set a new course for the Iranian navy. This has been attributed to “human error” by a report that cites sources in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. But costly mistakes like these raise plenty of questions about the armed forces’ preparedness and professionalism. This isn’t the first time the Iranian military has had to admit to mistakes this year, and its earlier one was even more catastrophic. In January, following the heightened tensions between Iran and the US that came with the latter’s assassination of top Iranian military Commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, a surface-to-air missile brought down a Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 people on board.
At least 19 sailors lost their lives and 15 were wounded when an Iranian missile hit a support ship during a training exercise in the Gulf of Oman.