The Iranian Navy’s “Konarak” ship caught fire in Jask port near the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday while it was laying mines and not after being struck by a missile.
“The Navy’s Konarak warship sank after a mine it laid exploded, and not due to a hit by a missile launched from the Jamaran frigate,” a high-ranking source in the Iranian Armed Forces Staff Command was quoted as saying by Kuwait-based Al-Jarida today.
However, other reports said a missile strike caused the explosion going by the damage to the superstructure. In addition, a website affiliated to the Iranian Army said that the missile's homing device malfunctioned either due to a system fault or an electronic attack by the 'enemy' which may have guided the missile to the wrong target.
The now-destroyed 47m ship was bought by the Iranian forces from Netherlands to provide logistics support.
“The ship was then modified to enable it to carry cruise missiles and lay mines without being detected from the air,” he added.
On May 10, a test was being carried out to check whether the Konarak can lay mines without being detected by radars or other means. “But, the mechanical device responsible to carry out the operation suffered a malfunction that let one of the mines to detach itself. It exploded and caused a cruise missile (test target) also to blow up,” the official explained.
Iranian state media had reported earlier that the Konarak vessel sank during a botched test of an anti-ship missile. The Navy’s Jamaran frigate fired the missile prematurely, hitting the vessel that was putting targets out in the water.
Nineteen sailors are confirmed dead, and fifteen others were injured in the incident.
“Iran wanted to lay mines in Gulf waters quickly, in the event of a confrontation with the US Navy. So the authorities decided to announce that the Konarak was damaged in a friendly-fire,” the source claimed.
However, experts say that from the damage to the ship's superstructure, a missile strike is more likely.
Electronic Warfare by ‘enemy’?
An Iranian Army website video speculated that the missile may have hit the support vessel as a result of “electronic warfare by the enemy” which could have interfered with the missile’s homing device and hit the Konarak which was placing targets in the sea.
The video also affirmed that the Jamaran frigate fired a missile prematurely that hit the Konarak, which caught fire. The video explains that the missile homing device malfunctioned and wrongly guided the warhead toward the support vessel.