Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard arresting 2 US boats – Video
Iran holds two US Navy boats in Persian Gulf
US military officials say they briefly lost contact with two small Navy craft in the Persian Gulf
Iranian forces seized two US vessels crossing the Persian Gulf it has been claimed, but later gave American officials assurances that the craft and their crews would be returned unharmed.
The Pentagon has said it briefly lost contact with two small Navy craft in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday but has received assurances from Iran that the crew and vessels will be returned safely and promptly.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook tells The Associated Press that the boats were moving between Kuwait and Bahrain when the US lost contact with them.
Cook says, “We have been in contact with Iran and have received assurances that the crew and the vessels will be returned promptly.”
A Pentagon spokesman said that the boats were moving between Kuwait and Bahrain when US lost contact with them. Fox News claimed that they strayed into Iranian waters.
“Earlier Tuesday we lost contact with two small U.S. Naval craft en route from Kuwait to Bahrain,” a US defence official told the Reuters news agency.
The White House said on Tuesday that it was aware of the situation in which two Navy boats were held in Iranian custody and is working to get U.S. personnel returned.
Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters at the White House the administration was working to resolve the situation and was hopeful about it.
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.
The incident bore echoes of an incident in 2004 when Royal Navy sailors were seized by the Iranian armed forces.
Fifteen Royal Navy personnel from a training team based in southern Iraq were detained by Iranian authorities in waters dividing Iran from Iraq while delivering a boat from Umm Qsar to Basra.
The incident lead to a prolonged diplomatic stand-off after Iran claimed that the British sailors were in its territorial waters but the MoD said they were in Iraqi waters.
The 15 servicemen and women captured by Iran left the country on a commercial flight following the theatrical announcement of their release a month after their initial detention.
It is understood they flew home business class and once airborne celebrated their freedom with champagne and laughter.
In 2012 an Iranian warship responded to a distress signal from the US-flagged Maersk Texas, a cargo ship of 500 feet and 14,000 tons, which was besieged by “several pirate boats”.
The cargo vessel “was saved by the navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, Iranian media claimed at the time.
The pirates “fled the scene as soon as they spotted the presence” of the warship. Maersk Texas “thanked the Iranian navy and sailed towards its destination safely,” it added.
It was the first time the Iranian navy protected a US ship from pirates.
Maersk had sailed from the UAE port of Fujairah, south of the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance of the Gulf, and was headed for the United.