Kharg helicopter carrier / replenishment ship
Kharg, one of the largest ships of the Iranian Navy caught fire and sank near the entrance to the Persian (Arabian Gulf) on 02 June 2021, and the crew was evacuated. Classified as a training ship by Iranian state television and news agencies, the Kharg caught fire not far from the Iranian port city of Jask in the Strait of Hormuz. Tasnim News Agency reported that a fire broke out around 11am local time 01 June 2021 and the ship sank 8.30am 02 June 2021, after efforts to extinguish the fire failed. Tasnim said all 400 crew and trainees aboard [normally the crew is about 250] had been evacuated with 20 people hospitalized with minor burns, after which the ship sank.
No information was initially provided on the cause of the fire. There have been repeated incidents in the Gulf of Oman in recent years. In June 2019 there were explosions on tankers from Norway and Japan. The US and UK then blamed Iran for the alleged attacks, but could not provide any evidence. Iran, however, denied any involvement in the incidents and suggested US responsibility. The sinking of the Kharg marks the latest naval disaster for Iran. In 2020 during an Iranian military training exercise, a missile mistakenly struck a naval vessel near the port of Jask, killing19 sailors and wounding 15. Also in 2018, an Iranian navy destroyer sank in the Caspian Sea.
The Kharg had been in service for over 40 years. The ship of the Iranian Navy could supply other ships at sea with supplies and it was suitable for the transport of heavy cargoes. Among other things, it served as a take-off point for helicopters.
The Iranian ship Kharg was a supply and replenishment ship of the Iranian Navy, named after Kharg Island. Built in Britain by Swan Hunter 1976-1978, launched in 1977, delivered 1984 and refitted 1993. Kharg was a modified Olwen class design, 679.5 feet long versus the 648 feet length of the Olwen, though of similar displacement. The O Class Fleet Replenishment Tankers were the fastest and largest ships of the British Fleet Auxiliary service of the 1960s. These tankers were designed with strengthened hulls for use in ice, also the ships were fully air conditioned and had landing decks for helicopters as well as hanger space for two helicopters.
Iran designated the Kharg as a helicopter carrier, the largest of its kind in West Asia. The carrier operated as a backup aircraft transport for the Iranian Navy’s destroyers in international waters. The Kharg had also been described by the Iranian press variously as a "cruiser" or "aviation cruiser". Every country was entitled to call its ships whatever it likes, but Iran was uniquely imaginative in ship designations.
In recent years, Iran’s Navy had been increasing its presence in international waters to protect naval routes and provide security for merchant vessels and tankers. In line with the international efforts to combat piracy, the Iranian Navy had also been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 to safeguard the vessels involved in maritime trade, especially the ships and oil tankers owned or leased by Iran.
Iran warships sailed via Suez Canal 22 February 2011 amid Israeli concern. The Iranian supply vessel and Iranian frigate were the first to go through the Suez Canal since 1979. Two Iranian warships have sailed through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea, canal officials say. Iranian officials have said the warships are heading to Syria for training, a mission Israel has described as a "provocation". The ships exited the canal at 1330 GMT, a canal authority source told Reuters. It was believed to be the first time since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution that Iranian warships have passed through the waterway.
Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said that a naval fleet of the country crossed the Strait of Malacca for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution on February 25, 2013 . “For the first time since the Islamic Revolution, the Naval Forces of the Islamic Republic have crossed the Strait of Malacca,” Sayyari said on Monday. Sayyari stressed the importance of the north Indian Ocean and southeastern Asia to Iran because of the commercial vessel traffic through the Straits of Hormuz, Bab el-Mandeb and Malacca. He added that the Iranian Navy’s 24th fleet of warships, comprising Sabalan destroyer and Kharg helicopter carrier, had set sail for the Malacca Strait to provide security for the route.
The 24th fleet of Iran’s Navy returned home 04 April 2013 after successfully conducting a 72-day mission in international waters to provide maritime security in the region. Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said that presence in the Indian and Pacific oceans and the China Sea, patrolling Southeast Asia's strategic Strait of Malacca, crossing the Equator, docking at China's Zhangjiagang port and identifying 370 surface and subsurface vessel units were among the important tasks carried out by the fleet. He added that the Navy’s 24th fleet consisted of Sabalan destroyer and Kharg helicopter carrier along with 800 naval personnel.
“An Iranian oil tanker which had been attacked by pirates was rescued by the Navy's 27th Fleet in the Gulf of Aden,” said Iran Navy Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Siavash Jarreh on 06 October 2013. The vessel was not damaged in the incident, said the Iranian commander, adding, “After the pirates fled, the Iranian oil tanker was escorted by the Navy’s fleet … to its destination. The 27th Fleet consisting of the Sabalan destroyer and the Kharg helicopter carrier has been dispatched to the north of Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. It recently succeeded in rescuing Yemeni boats from pirates and is now patrolling the Gulf of Aden and the waters of the Indian Ocean,” Jarreh said.
Two Iranian navy ships, the helicopter carrier Kharg and destroyer Admiral Naqdi, arrived at Sudan's Red Sea port. Sudan's foreign ministry on Monday denied that Iran had any involvement in a military factory which Khartoum says was attacked by Israeli aircraft in October 2013. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms what is known by all: that Iran has no need to manufacture weapons in Sudan, for Iran or for its allies," the ministry said in a statement. "We want to deny any relation between Sudan's military manufacturing and any foreign partner." Israeli officials have expressed concern about arms smuggling through Sudan and have long accused Khartoum of serving as a base of support for militants from the Islamist Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip.
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