Konarak vessel incident

The Konarak vessel incident was a friendly fire incident in the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy on 10 May 2020 where an anti-ship missile fired from the Iranian frigate Jamaran hit the support vessel Konarak.[1] The incident happened during a war game of the Iranian Navy in the Gulf of Oman. During this incident, 19 crew of the Konarak were killed with 15 wounded. The Konarak was heavily damaged and its wreckage towed to Chabahar Port.[2]

Konarak vessel incident
Date10 May 2020
Location
Result 19 Iranian navy personnel killed and 15 others injured

IncidentEdit

 
Iranian frigate Jamaran

On 10 May 2020, the ship was struck by a Noor missile, an upgraded YJ-83, which was fired from the Jamaran in the Gulf of Oman close to the Strait of Hormuz.[3] Official Iranian TV initially reported one fatality in the incident,[4] but this was later revised to 19 killed and 15 injured. The Konarak was involved as a tender, setting out targets for target practice for missiles from Jamaran. The Konarak reportedly failed to distance itself sufficiently from the target prior to the launch and was struck by a missile.[5] The missile may have automatically locked onto Konarak as the largest target or else been set as the target by human error.[4] After the incident, Konarak was recovered to port to undergo a "technical inspection". Footage published by Iranian state broadcaster IRIB showed the ship down heavily by the bow[6] with its superstructure devastated and smoke visible from fires.[5]

ReactionsEdit

  • On 11 May 2020, Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, a former Vice President of Iran, tweeted "Once again there is a lack of transparency in informing the public". He was referring to a similar incident, the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, a few months previously.[7]
  • On 14 May 2020, the United States Central Command expressed sympathies with Iran over the incident. Spokesman Captain Bill Urban said in a statement, "our sincere condolences to the Iranian people for the tragic loss of life". In further comments, Urban also criticized Iran for setting up military drills so close to the narrow Strait of Hormuz, where one fifth of world oil passes.[8]
  • Some experts conclude that with this incident, the stability of the Persian Gulf has come under question. Fabian Hinz of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies, who is an expert on Iran's military, was quoted by The New York Times as saying, "This really showed that the situation with Iran is still dangerous because accidents and miscalculations can happen".[9]
  • Referring to two lethal "high-profile" incidents by Iran's military in just a few months, Reed Foster, a senior analyst at Jane's, has said that the incident "damages the credibility" of the Iranian government, under international sanctions, in manipulating sophisticated weapons.[10]
  • According to The New York Times, Afshon Ostovar, an Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs at the California Naval Postgraduate School, said the mistake "appears to be beyond sloppy". He went on to say this incident shows the unprofessionalism of the Iranian military.[7]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Iran navy 'friendly fire' incident kills 19 sailors in Gulf of Oman". BBC News. 11 May 2020. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  2. ^ "ارتش ایران: ۱۹ نفر در حادثه شناور کنارک کشته و ۱۵ نفر مجروح شدند" (in Persian). BBC Persian. 11 May 2020. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  3. ^ Rogoway, Tyler (11 May 2020). "Here's All That's Left Of Iranian Navy Ship Struck By Missile In Friendly Fire Tragedy (Updated)". The Drive. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  4. ^ a b Wintour, Patrick (11 May 2020). "Iran says 19 dead in Gulf of Oman friendly fire incident". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Iran navy 'friendly fire' incident kills 19 sailors in Gulf of Oman". BBC News. 11 May 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  6. ^ Eckstein, Megan (11 May 2020). "Iranian Friendly Fire Incident Kills 19, After Frigate Fires Missile At Support Ship". USNI News. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  7. ^ a b Fassihi, Farnaz (10 May 2020). "Iranian Friendly Fire Kills 19 in 2nd Missile Accident of Year". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  8. ^ Gambrell, Jon (14 May 2020). "US military offers condolences over Iran accident killing 19". Associated Press. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Friendly Fire Incident Kills 19 In Iranian Navy Drill". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 11 May 2020. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Sailors killed after Iran missile 'accidentally' strikes own ship". Al Jazeera. 11 May 2020. Retrieved 21 May 2020.