Iranians take two U.S. Navy vessels; U.S. sailors in custody

U.S. Navy Small Unit Riverine Craft (SURC)

U.S. Navy Small Unit Riverine Craft (SURC)

This is not a promising situation:

Two small U.S. Navy vessels appear to be in Iranian custody but their crews will be released promptly, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday.

Two U.S. naval craft were en route from Kuwait to Bahrain when they disappeared from the Navy’s scopes. The incident marks the latest run-in between Iranian and U.S. crews. In late December, Iranian gunboats fired unguided missiles almost a 1,000 yards away from the aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman.

A U.S. official said that the boats were small riverine variants and may have ran out of gas or had mechanical issues and were believed to have been within 12 nautical miles of Iran when they broke down….

This prompts a number of questions, such as:

  • Two boats broke down at the same time in the same place? Or did Iran do something to cause them to “break down?” Or did one break down and the other was rendering aid? What happened?
  • What kind of boats were these? What’s a “small riverine variant”? Are they like P.B.R.s? Swift boats? P.T. boats? How are they configured and crewed? What are they designed to do? What’s the mission? (UPDATE: Apparently, these were Small Unit Riverine Craft. A picture is posted above.)
  • If our sailors are not released promptly, then what?
  • I missed the news about the Truman incident. What was our response? That is, what did we do after we sank the gunboats? (No, I know we didn’t, or I would have heard about it.)


16 thoughts on “Iranians take two U.S. Navy vessels; U.S. sailors in custody

  1. bud

    Our boats were in Iranian waters. This is only a big deal if they’re not released within a day or two.

  2. Mark Stewart

    We are developing a bad habit of allowing these captures to occur.

    If we are engaged in innocent passage making; fight them off. If we are engaged in extra-legal military activities, fight our way out (or don’t do the things in the first place).

  3. bud

    The 10 Americans have been released. This is an example of how our diplomatic overtures regarding the Iranians are working. Had we followed the militaristic bluster of the neo-cons they would probably be hostages, or worse, now. Clearly this is a success story for the administration and a damnation of conservatives like Lindsey Graham.

    1. Juan Caruso

      “This is an example of how our diplomatic overtures regarding the Iranians are working.” It certainly is. The only problems are the questions Brad raised in his introduction, not to mention the just-in-time for the SOTU speech — >>>>to garner more audience than Obama’s previous SOTU speeches<<<<>> no opportunity to respond to official press releases <<<?

      Has anyone yet seen a photo of all ten (10) of these sailors while held in captivity? I have only seen such photos of the (1) female sailor and (8) males. Who and where was the tenth? For example:

      1. Mark Stewart

        You referenced the US Naval Institute’s blog, which is good. But I don’t follow the conspiracy theory here with your concern. Maybe the 10th is an officer?

        This is either a colossal command failure of an innocent passage, or it is an ill-conceived and executed covert mission. Either way it is a leadership failure – an inexcusable one. That’s what really matters.

        1. Doug Ross

          If it was a botched covert mission, you think we’ll ever know that? Our military doesn’t make mistakes.

  4. Phillip

    And how would the US government handle things if two boats from Iran’s Navy “broke down” within 12 miles of the US coastline? Wouldn’t we hold 10 members of their Navy overnight while we figured out what was going on? Seems like in the end everybody behaved like grownups here.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, we probably would. In the alternative universe in which something like that might happen.

      There’s no indication Iran did anything irregular here, although it was a bit hairy when we didn’t know much.

      Which makes this different from when Iran fired a missile within 1,500 yards of one of our carriers, late last month…

      1. Bryan Caskey

        My only follow up question to all this:

        These boats were SMALL boats. Clearly, the plan was not to be on those boats for very long even if the mission went smoothly. However, there was some sort of breakdown. Okay, fine. But where in the name of Davy Jones was the rest of our Navy, and why weren’t they on their way to rescue them?

    2. Barry

      I doubt we would make them apologize on their hands and knees.

      Yes, I think we would release them very quickly.

      Just saw a report on MSNBC of all places about it.

      former ambassador Mark Ginsberg (Democrat) said he doesn’t believe the Pentagon story. He said this doesn’t make sense – and he thinks John Kerry was full of baloney with his sweet as candy statements about the incident.

      Says the “administration will have to come clean” on why these sailors were in this area – because it makes no sense.

      NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewsk said the video of the sailors on their knees is a huge propaganda tool for Iran and quite a few folks behind the scenes were furious about it.

  5. bud

    I’m just thankful we had Obama as POTUS and Kerry as Sec of State. Imagine the calamity if the previous regime had been in charge.

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