Iran Seizes Two US Navy Boats: As many as 10 US sailors detained by Iran
The crew of two small Navy craft are being held by Iran.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told The Associated Press that the boats were moving between Kuwait and Bahrain when the U.S. lost contact with them.
“We have been in contact with Iran and have received assurances that the crew and the vessels will be returned promptly,” Cook said.
U.S. officials said that the incident happened near Farsi Island, situated in the middle of the Persian Gulf. They say it stemmed from some type of mechanical trouble with one of the boats, causing them to run aground. The troops were picked up by Iran.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who has forged a personal relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif through three years of nuclear negotiations, called Zarif immediately on learning of the incident, according to a senior U.S. official.
Kerry “personally engaged with Zarif on this issue to try to get to this outcome,” the official said.
Kerry learned of the incident around 12:30 p.m. EST as he and Defense Secretary Ash Carter were meeting their Filipino counterparts at the State Department, the official said.
This comes on the heels of an incident in late December when Iran launched a rocket test near U.S. warships and boats passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
The officials were not authorized to discuss the sensitive incident publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.
Iranian media reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have detained the two boats after the vessels “illegally” entered Iranian territorial waters in the Gulf.
“These two boats were seized by Revolutionary Guard naval forces near Farsi Island 2 km inside Iranian territorial waters,” the semi-official Fars news agency reported. It gave no further detail.
In Washington on Tuesday, a senior Obama administration official said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the U.S. sailors in Iranian custody would be allowed to continue their journey promptly. A U.S. defence official said nine men and one woman sailor were being held by Iran and that they had been aboard two riverine patrol boats.