News / USA

    US Military Releases Account of Iran's Detention of US Sailors

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

    The U.S. military has released its first official account of Iran's 15-hour detention of 10 U.S. sailors whose boats had strayed into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf last week.

    A U.S. Central Command statement said the two Navy vessels were scheduled to meet up with a U.S. Coast Guard boat in international waters for refueling but deviated from their planned course on the way.

    "The command investigation will determine what caused the change in course and why the RCBs (U.S. Navy boats) entered into Iranian territorial waters in the vicinity of Farsi Island," the statement said.

    The sailors were traveling through the Persian Gulf from Kuwait toward Bahrain when U.S. controllers lost contact with them Tuesday.

    One of the boats "had indications of a mechanical issue in a diesel engine," and both vessels stopped, CENTCOM said.  "This stop occurred in Iranian territorial waters, although it's not clear the crew was aware of their exact location. While the RCBs were stopped and the crew was attempting to evaluate the mechanical issue, Iranian boats approached the vessels."

    The sailors were later detained.

    "At gunpoint, the RCBs were escorted to a small port facility on Farsi Island where the U.S. sailors disembarked and were detained for approximately 15 hours.  At this point there are no indications that the sailors were physically harmed during their detainment," CENTCOM said.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who spoke to his Iranian counterpart several times over the incident, said the swift release of the sailors was a success for diplomacy.

    At the same time, Kerry says the pictures of 10 American sailors being detained by Iran last week left him extremely upset and frustrated.

    Kerry told CNN television Monday that he thought Iran's treatment of the sailors was inappropriate, and that he immediately let Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif know how he felt.

    But Kerry praised Zarif and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for "responding promptly" to the situation, saying that what could have been a very dangerous major hostage crisis just a few years ago was resolved quickly because of diplomacy.

    Kerry answered critics of U.S. policy toward Iran by saying it is far more dangerous not to negotiate with Tehran.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: Carl Walker
    January 28, 2016 3:15 PM
    More Gov. bull, they no exactly what happened, but they need time to doctor. Been their, done that. We may never know until some sailor decides to spill all after his discharge.

    by: Motone Holi from: Japan
    January 19, 2016 8:48 AM
    You are kidding? They are not mentally strong,are they? We had a nightmare,it can't be helped. I estimated for next WW-3 ,many sailors and soldiers on US-Navy7th will run away against Chinses-Braves.President of USA should sell 140 aircraft's to Japanese-government that aircraft's category are F-16 and F-18Superhornet and F-35A and V-22 untill 2017.Can you send my massage to your President.
    In Response

    by: WorldView from: USA
    January 19, 2016 5:27 PM
    You are crazy. You want WW III because a few sailors lost their way? Unbelievable!

    by: grafxman from: Florida
    January 19, 2016 8:28 AM
    Since the Iranians likely have equipment that can spoof sat nav equipment it is possible they used it to get the USN vessels into their waters. Then they could seize them and search them thoroughly for any information they could find.

    by: Pudge from: U.S.
    January 19, 2016 8:08 AM
    Another question to be answered is why were the US sailors carrying their passports. That seems a bit odd.

    by: Nathan
    January 18, 2016 11:36 PM
    The boats could not move on their own due to mechanical failure or lack of fuel.

    So they couldn't be commanded to leave, escorted out or any sort of action that would require the boats to use their engines.

    What Iran did is in accordance to international norms and treaties.

    The Armed vessels inside their territory were towed to safety, the sailors and their intentions were processed, they were provided with food, blankets and rest time and after less than 15 hours they were released, with no arms shot, no harm done to any of them.

    The sailors also acted based on international treaties, they lied down their weapons and lowed to be searched to show no intention of aggression. Two military vessels armed to the teeth with armed sailors in another country's territory close to a military site of that country is not a good first step to be situated in, so the sailors acted wisely.

    The sailors couldn't also ask another bigger armed vessel come to pick them up. Why would the Iranian Revolutionary Guards ignore two fully armed vessels and crew well inside their territory and allow another bigger armed vessel come inside their territory? So the sailors did the right thing.
    In Response

    by: lone eagle from: Bangkok, Thailand
    January 19, 2016 6:46 AM
    The rationale for the presence of the US Navy and its allies in the Persian Gulf is to prevent Iran from seizing control of the Persian Gulf that could possibly prevent oil ships from American allies in the region.

    For over 35 years Iran has failed to comply with international law and treaties by first seizing and occupying the US Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and since then has been a state sponsor of terrorism in Lebanon and elsewhere around the world.

    If armed US Navy ships and those of its allies are able to operate within each others waters then why cannot a US Navy ship do the same in Iranian waters?

    If the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are encouraged by what they just recently did and attempt to do the same thing in the future, then any USN vessel so threatened will have no recourse but to call in USN fixed wing aircraft on USN carriers in the gulf and destroy the Iranian vessels and perhaps followed up by further airstrikes destroying Iranian naval facilities.

    That choice is up to Iran!!!!

    by: Igor from: Russia
    January 18, 2016 9:13 PM
    May be they were in a spy mission and then caught by Iranian anti spy agents.
    In Response

    by: lone eagle from: Bangkok, Thailand
    January 19, 2016 12:44 AM
    Igor if they were on a spy mission then very good since pariah states like Russia and Iran need to be watched very closely to ensure that their mentally unstable regimes don't go off and start WWIII against the Free World!!!!

    by: Mary Jevne from: Wahkon
    January 18, 2016 2:19 PM
    I don't believe our soldiers would have been off course in hostile waters by 50 miles as reported. It stretches credibility for me to believe the boats and our soldiers don't have redundency built in to their systems and procedures to prevent a mishap like this from occurring in the middle east. The real story will get out. The question is how soon.
    In Response

    by: Jake
    January 19, 2016 12:46 AM
    Not anytime soon, if ever. Missions such as these are not for the public domain. Just illustrates the need for constant surveillance and monitoring with close by backup if "things go wrong" In this case the crews were exceptionally lucky, even in this modern day of satellite technology.

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