An Iranian live-fire naval training event went horribly wrong in the Gulf of Oman when one of the country’s own naval vessels was struck by an anti-ship cruise missile on Sunday. The mistake has killed at least 19 Iranian sailors and wounded 15 more. A support ship named Konarak was placing targets for other ships to use for the exercise when the missile, a C-802 Noor, made a direct hit on the vessel.
The “friendly fire” accident happened on Sunday near the port of Jask, about 1,270km (790 miles) southeast of Tehran on the Gulf of Oman, a statement on the army’s website said on Monday.
The Konarak had been putting targets out in the water and remained too close to one, according to the reports.
The navy said the ship was towed ashore and that an investigation had begun.
Video show the vessel’s entire upper structure obliterated by the inadvertent strike.
It was not immediately clear how many crew members were on board the warship at the time of the accident.
The launching warship is said to have been the Moudge class frigate Jamaran. The ship, which was put into service just a decade ago, is one of Iran’s most advanced surface combatants and packs a quartet of C-802 Noors, which is a derivative of the very common YJ-83 Chinese radar-guided anti-ship missiles with a range of roughly 65 miles.
The bungled training exercises raised new questions about the readiness of the Islamic Republic’s armed forces amid heightened tensions with US, just months after they accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner near Tehran, killing 176 passengers.
It also comes soon after a tense naval encounter between Iranian and US forces in the nearby Gulf.