Iran’s Newest Navy Warship Sinks in ‘Accident’

Iran has lost one of its newest indigenous warships after it capsized in an “accident” in its home port, the country’s state media said on Sunday.

The Iranian navy’s Moudge-class frigate the Sahand was under repairs at a dock in Bandar Abbas, on Iran’s south coast, when the incident took place, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, quoting a statement from the military.

A water leak caused the warship to “lose its balance,” the Iranian military said. Photos carried by state media showed the Sahand rolled over and partially submerged among several ships moored nearby.

Iranian state media said the vessel was in the process of being righted after the accident. Several people suffered minor injuries and were treated at hospital, the report said.

It was still unclear when exactly the incident occurred. Iran’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a Newsweek email seeking comment.

Bandar Abbas is a port facing both the strategically important Persian Gulf and the narrow Strait of Hormuz, where the United States and its allies have deployed warships to ensure the security of critical shipping lanes.

The Iranian navy has seized tankers in the region in the past, causing tensions with the West.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Navy established its Southern Forward Naval Headquarters in Bandar Abbas, where the headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy is also located, according to the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence.

Maritime security analyst H.I. Sutton wrote on Sunday that the Sahand may have had a higher center of gravity due to upgrades, which could have affected its balance. The warship was fitted with a new radar, surface-to-air missiles, and more anti-ship missiles.

Poor maintenance or a docking accident were the most likely causes of the incident, Sutton said, although he could not rule out that the 2,000-2,500-ton warship was sabotaged.

Iran Warship in Strait of Hormuz
Iranian Navy warship Sahand (with pennant number 74) takes part in the “National Persian Gulf day” in the Strait of Hormuz, on April 30, 2019.

AFP via Getty Images/ATTA KENARE

Salman Zarbi, the head of Iran Shipbuilding and Offshore Industries Complex, told the state-run Fars News Agency that it may be possible to repair the Sahand return it to operations.

The frigate has already seen deployment outside of Iran’s territorial waters. Last year, it was dispatched to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden and protect Red Sea shipping lanes, according to IRNA.

Another Iranian frigate, the Alvand-class Alborz, also deployed to the Red Sea this year, the semi-official Tasnim News Agency said in January. Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels began their attacks in the key waterway following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war last October.

The U.S. and some European countries have deployed naval forces to protect commercial shipping from Houthi attacks. The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which has been ordered to redeploy from the Western Pacific, is currently heading to the Middle East.