US sacks head of Navy squad nabbed in PG

May 13, 2016 11:00 am

This IRIB image grab of footage shot on January 12, 2016 shows American sailors captured in Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf.

has fired the commander of a team of Navy sailors captured by Iran earlier this year over trespassing on the Islamic Republic’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.
The Navy said in a statement that it has lost confidence in commander Eric Rasch, who was the executive officer of the coastal riverine squadron.
The statement also blamed Rasch for ‘complacency’ and failure to maintain standards in the 10-member unit.
Rasch became the first person to be publicly singled out after a preliminary investigation into the incident that occurred near Iran’s Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf.
Several other sailors also received administrative reprimands.
The Navy has not yet released the results of its own investigation into the incident but the military said the Americans had been intercepted on January 12 after the diesel engine in one of their boats developed a mechanical problem.
On January 13, the Public Relations Office of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced the release of US sailors who included nine men and a woman.
The IRGC said in a statement that “following the illegal and unpermitted entry of two American Navy vessels into the Islamic Republic of Iran’s territorial waters near Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf on the evening of the previous day, the vessels stopped, obeying a warning by IRGC vessels, and their crewmembers, who comprised nine male Marines and one female Marine, were placed under arrest.”
It added, “After technical and operational examinations done in interaction with the country’s relevant political and national security authorities and the establishment of the inadvertent and unintentional nature of the entry by the American Navy crafts and their apology, a decision was made to free them.”
The statement said the Americans had pledged not to repeat the mistake, adding, “…the arrested American Marines were released into international waters under IRGC Navy vessels’ watch.”
At the time of the impounding, the IRGC statement said, the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, which was present in nearby international waters, resorted to aerial and seaborne provocations, adding that the IRGC Navy subsequently acted perceptively and authoritatively, thus restoring control and calm to the area.
The capture of American sailors by the IRGC ruffled feathers in Washington, with some senior Republicans slamming the US administration after President Barack Obama did not mention the incident in his annual state of the union address to the US Congress back in January.
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