By Debbie Gregory.
The Navy is faulting a junior officer and a senior enlisted for failing to defend their patrol boats and then for surrendering them at gunpoint to Iranian paramilitaries, after they blundered into Iranian waters earlier this year.
“The investigation also found some crewmembers did not meet code of conduct standards while in custody,” said Vice Adm. John Aquilino.
On January 12th, the ten U.S. sailors aboard two patrol craft were detained by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) when they inadvertently entered Iranian territorial waters. They were held for about 15 hours and released the next day.
The U.S. military said the Americans were intercepted after the diesel engine in one of their boats developed a mechanical problem. When the Iranians initially approached, the sailors were making repairs and did not man their weapons.
The U.S. crews were not in a position to defend themselves, leaving them with only two options-fight or surrender. The lieutenant ordered his coxswain to attempt to steer the boat through the Iranian vessels, but the ordered was ignored and the two boat captains ordered crews to drop their weapons.
Although the Iranians were within their rights to investigate why the boats were near the island, Navy officials said, they violated international law by holding the sailors at gunpoint, videotaping interviews with them and damaging equipment on their boats.
Adm. John Richardson said that the lessons learned from the incident would be taught to sailors around the fleet and also to future generations of officers and enlisted sailors. “So this will be something that we can mine for a lot of lessons,” Richardson said.