US Navy reproaches sailors captured by Iran

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WASHINGTON: Ten US sailors who were captured in January after straying into Iranian waters com­mitted basic navigational blunders, were quick to surrender and some buckled under questioning, a damn­ing probe released on Thursday said. 

The report into the Jan 12 inci­dent in the Persian Gulf highlights a string of leadership and procedural failings in Iran’s humiliating sei­zure of the 10 American sailors, with investigators saying the crews of the two captured boats had been derelict in their duties. 

The sailors at times appeared haplessly lost at sea, with the engi­neer on one boat even resorting to an app on his smart phone to try to figure out the name of an unexpected land mass — which turned out to be Iran’s Farsi Island — only to find his phone displaying only a “long Ara­bic name” and no other information. 

In all, nine navy personnel — three of whom were actually on the boats that were meant to head from Kuwait to Bahrain — have been disciplined or will face disci­plinary action. 

Iranian media broadcast humili­ating images of the US sailors dur­ing their detention, showing them kneeling on their boats at gunpoint with their hands on their heads. 

At one point during detention, a gunner from one boat thought about trying to escape, but “did not think of himself as a prisoner of war be­cause the conditions were too nice”, the report stated. Although the sail­ors were held for less than 24 hours, the incident was a major embarrass­ment for the US Navy and President Barack Obama. 

The United States carefully avoided escalating the situation, maintaining a conciliatory tone with Tehran days ahead of the imple­mentation of a historic international deal over Iran’s nuclear progr 

 

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