The capture, 24-hour internment and then release of American sailors in the Persian Gulf by Iranian forces recently is a bit of a muddle right now. The sailors have been released unharmed, but their actions while being held, as well as the actions of the U.S. Navy and government, are raising a lot of questions.
The facts, at this point, are that two Navy riverine craft were interred by Iranian forces near Farsi Island. Iranian forces claim that the boats were within two miles of the island and, so far, the U.S. government is not denying that. The crews of both boats were taken into custody by Iranian forces and held for approximately 15 hours. After that the crews were returned to their boats and escorted out of Iranian waters.
Other than that, facts are in short supply. Opinions, however, are all over the map. The American government wants you to believe that a navigation mistake was the reason for two Navy riverine crafts to be within the territorial waters of Farsi Island. The boats were traveling between Kuwait and Bahrain and ended up off course and in Iranian waters even though both boats had working GPS, charts and communication gear.
“I think that this much is clear, there was a navigational error of some kind,” Ashton Carter, Secretary of Defense, said at a press conference. “All the contributing factors to that we don’t know yet, and we’re still talking to those folks, and we’ll find out more … but they were clearly out of the position that they intended to be in.”
Secretary Carter is correct that they were clearly out of position, but why were they? Farsi Island is in the middle of the Persian Gulf and any route for small boats from Kuwait to Bahrain doesn’t need to go within miles of it. Even without navigation charts or GPS, keeping the coast of Saudi Arabia in sight would have kept the small craft away from Farsi Island.
Trying to figure out what happened raises a number of questions about why this happened. Why did the small craft go off course? If there were navigation issues or mechanical problems with the boats, why did they not signal for support? If they did call for help, what was the American response?
The USS Harry S Truman battle group was 45 miles southeast of Farsi Island, at the time of the incident, and the French carrier Charles de Gaulle with her strike group was 40 miles north of Farsi Island. If either of those carriers, or any other allied ships or aircraft in the area, responded, the Navy has kept a lid on it.
Thankfully, the sailors were released unharmed. The Iranian government is, of course, using the capture for propaganda purposes. Relations between Iran and the U.S. are not at the stage where the “rescue” could be considered friendly, but the overt hostility of the last few decades was not in view.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.