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US Navy Officer Fired Over Iran Incident; More Action Expected

  • VOA News

Photo, released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency Jan. 13, 2016, shows detention of U.S. Navy sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf, Iran.

Photo, released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency Jan. 13, 2016, shows detention of U.S. Navy sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf, Iran.

A U.S. Navy commander has been fired and further disciplinary action may follow as American authorities investigate the detention of 10 U.S. sailors who entered Iranian waters by accident in January.

Commander Eric Rasch was dismissed "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command," the Navy said in a statement. An official who declined to be identified said Rasch's failure to provide effective leadership led to a lack of oversight, complacency and failure to maintain high standards in the unit.

Captain Gary Leigh relieved Rasch of his duties Thursday after reviewing a preliminary investigation of the incident near Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf.

Several other sailors already have received administrative reprimands, and disciplinary action is expected against others when the investigation is completed later this month.

The American sailors were intercepted on January 12 after an engine in one of their boats developed mechanical problems. Iranian media broadcast videos showing the sailors on their knees with Iran's Revolutionary Guards pointing weapons at them.

The Americans were freed after being detained for 15 hours. U.S. officials said Secretary of State John Kerry intervened to resolve the case and avert a diplomatic crisis days before the Iran nuclear deal was implemented and global sanctions on Iran were lifted.

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