The accident, which is unusually reported by the Iranian media, occurred during maneuvers by the Revolutionary Guard
A Iranian Revolutionary Guard missile has hit a ship of its own during maneuvers in the Gulf of Oman. The accident, which occurred this Sunday, has caused 19 deaths and fifteen wounded, among the seafarers, as reported by the Army in a statement shortly after the local media reported the event. Iran conducts frequent exercises in those waters at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, but it is unusual for it to spread such mishaps, giving an idea of its severity. Earlier this year, another Revolutionary Guard missile mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane as it was taking off from Tehran airport.
“The Konarak ship was hit in the early hours of yesterday afternoon [Sunday] during naval exercises in the waters of Bandar-e Jask,” the state television website announced Monday. At that time, the Iranian state news agency, IRNA, reported that one sailor had died, 12 others had required hospitalization and three more only outpatient treatment, but “unofficial reports” cited by the BBC speak of “dozens of dead sailors” . Shortly afterwards, a statement on the Army website confirmed the death of 19 of the ship’s crew.
The Konarak, a Dutch-built ship in service since 1988 refurbished two years ago, is 47 meters long and usually carries a crew of 20 sailors, according to Iranian media. Local journalists have reported that the destroyer Jamaran was testing a new type of anti-ship missile and the Konarak was in charge of putting the targets in the water so that other ships would fire at them. Apparently, the accident occurred “after having displaced a target, without creating enough distance” with it.
Earlier this year, the official attempt to silence the responsibility of the Revolutionary Guard in the shooting down of the Ukrainian civilian plane reactivated anti-system protests. The Iranians, already quite suspicious of the regime, took to the streets in mourning for the 176 people who were on board. The crisis prompted President Hasan Rohani to request the formation of a special court to investigate him and a judicial spokesman announced the arrest of several people, but, as is usual in these cases, the matter has not been heard from again.
Iran often carries out maneuvers in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz, the pass that communicates with the Persian Gulf and through which a fifth of the oil that is commercialized in the world circulates. Their movements often collide with the presence of ships from the United States’ Fifth Fleet, which monitors the area from its base in Bahrain, an activity that the Islamic Republic questions. The tension between the two, who have not had diplomatic relations for four decades, has increased since the Trump Administration withdrew from the nuclear deal just now two years ago. In addition, they have recently again exchanged threats on the activities of their respective naval forces.