Britain has suspended its practice of boarding and inspecting vessels in the Persian Gulf, following Iran's detention of 15 British naval personnel in disputed waters.

In an interview with British radio Friday, Britain's navy chief Jonathon Band said operations are temporarily halted as the navy conducts a review of the practice.

Iranian forces seized the 15 British sailors and marines March 23 after they boarded and inspected a merchant ship. Iran released the captives on Thursday.

The former detainees have issued a statement calling their ordeal "very difficult."

Before their release, some of the captives were seen on video apologizing to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Britain says the naval personnel were in Iraq's waters, not Iran's.

Prime Minister Tony Blair says Britain gained freedom for the personnel without making any deals or apologies to Iran.

Mr. Blair said new and interesting lines of communication with Iran have opened. He said if Iran wants, it can have a different relationship with Britain.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.