Nineteen sailors were killed and 15 others injured in the Gulf of Oman when an Iranian missile fired during a training exercise struck a support vessel near its target, Iranian state media reported Monday.
The missile struck the Konarak, a missile launching support warship that had been taking part in Sunday's exercise. Iranian state television reported that the vessel had been putting targets out for other ships when it was hit, saying it had been too close to a target. The strike was described as an accident.
"The vessel was hit after moving a practice target to its destination and not creating enough distance between itself and the target," state television said on its website. Iran’s army confirmed that one sailor had died and said that "investigations" had begun. Iranian media rarely reports on military mishaps, signifying the severity of the incident.
"The circumstances of the incident are currently undergoing technical examinations," Iran's student News Agency ISNA said. The incident took place near the port Jask, about 1,270 kilometers (790 miles) southeast of Tehran in the Gulf of Oman.
State media reported that the Dutch-made Konarak had been overhauled in 2018. The 47-meter (155-foot) vessel could carry up to 40 tons, and usually carried a crew of 20 soldiers. Iran regularly holds military exercises in the area, which is closed off to the Strait of Hormuz. Some 20% of the world's oil passes through there.
The US Navy also monitors the area. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.