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Why It Took Iran's Navy 3.5 Hours To Come To The Rescue Of Its Vessel

The damaged Konarak vessel, hit by a friendly fire missile during naval exercises, is docked at the Jask port, in southern Hormozgan province, May 11, 2020
The damaged Konarak vessel, hit by a friendly fire missile during naval exercises, is docked at the Jask port, in southern Hormozgan province, May 11, 2020

Evidence show that the Iranian army’s navy did not know about the Konarak Frigate's situation and whereabouts for about three hours after it was hit by a missile fired from another Iranian vessel on May 10.

During the past week, there have been significant questions about the incident but no one in the line of command of Iranian armed forces bothered to answer those questions.

There are two hypothesis about the case:

Hypothesis 1: The Naval Force did not know what happened to one of its vessels

Videos published on social media by fishermen who went to the rescue of the damaged frigate show that Konarak was hit by a missile around 15 Hrs local time, but no relief and rescue team was dispatched to the site to rescue the injured sailors before the fishermen arrived.

The Fishermen say they observed smoke rising from the frigate from a distance of 10 miles. They reached the site of the incident after about 1.5 hours and tried to rescue injured sailors who were still on board. Eventually, they sent some of the injured personnel to the shore on a boat and told the officials about the incident from a distance of 12 miles to the shore where communication by phone was possible.

This means that the Iranian Navy did not know about the incident involving its vessels at least until 18:30 local time. This comes while navy helicopters needed only some 30 minutes to get to the site.

Ehsan Soltani, a twitter user, wrote: "The army rescue team reached the site after two hours! They hit their own frigate and only the fishermen noticed the rising smoke and rushed to the sailors' rescue."

The question is: Why the navy did not send a rescue team sooner?

Unconfirmed reports say Konarak was hit while carrying a target for the Jamaran frigate that was taking part in a military exercise.

Konarak must have been in contact with commanders in the naval force before the incident, which means they should have already known about its location. So, why no one looked for the vessel? Why the commander did not ask about it?

Based on evidence, either the commander did not know what had happened or they were not able to find their own frigate.

Hypothesis 2: Commanders knew about Konarak's situation and whereabouts

The naval force commanders can claim that they knew about the situation and whereabouts of the damaged vessel. In this case, there are more important questions to be asked: If they knew about the incident and its location, why they did not help between 15:00 Hrs to 18:30 Hrs? Couldn't helicopters fly the 60 Km distance to the ship in 3.5 hours and help the sailors who were fighting for their lives?

What else were they doing that was more important than saving the ship and those on board? Did they need 3.5 hours to arrange and coordinate a rescue effort? If yes, then that is a catastrophe.

Konarak before the friendly-fire incident
Konarak before the friendly-fire incident

In a video posted on social media, fishermen say they rescued 13 navy sailors. They had arrived on the site 1.5 hours after they saw the smoke. But when they made it to the place, the Iranian army rescue teams were not still there. What kind of a military exercise was it?

These questions and hypotheses show that most probably for three and a half hours Iranian naval force commanders did not know about what had happened to one of their ships. Or even if they knew and wanted to help, they did not know where it was. This reveals even a bigger incompetence.

According to the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader and the commander in chief of the Iranian armed forces, Iran's naval force is a "strategic force." How come that such a strategic force cannot find its own vessel that it had sent to a mission? If it finally found it, why did it take 3.5 hours? Every second of that 3.5 hours was vital for wounded sailors suspended between life and death.

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    Morad Vaisibiame

    Morad Veisi is a journalist and an editor at Radio Farda and is considered an expert in affairs related to Iran's IRGC and the Supreme Leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei.