After allegedly drifting into Iranian waters when their two boats experienced mechanical problems, the 10 U.S. Navy sailors that were being held have been released from the custody of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs Office released a statement claiming that the 10 U.S. Navy sailors were “safely returned to U.S. custody today, after departing Iran,” and that there are “no indications that the sailors were harmed during their brief detention.”
“The sailors departed Farsi Island at 8:43 a.m. GMT, aboard the two Riverine Command Boats that they had been operating when they lost contact with the U.S. Navy,” the statement said. “The sailors were later transferred ashore by U.S. Navy aircraft, while other sailors took charge of the RCBs and continued transiting toward Bahrain, the boats’ original destination. The Navy will investigate the circumstances that led to the Sailors’ presence in Iran.”
As previously reported, the 10 sailors were taken into custody by Iran on Tuesday, when they were traveling from Kuwait to Bahrain when they lost contact with the U.S. Navy near Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. U.S. defense officials said the sailors consisted of nine men and one woman who were traveling in two riverine patrol boats.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who worked closely with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif on the Iran nuclear deal, said he is “very pleased that our Sailors have been safely returned to U.S. hands.”
“As a former Sailor myself, I know the importance of naval presence around the world and the critical work being done by our Navy in the Gulf region,” Kerry said. “I’m proud of our young men and women in uniform and know how seriously they take their responsibilities to one another and to other mariners in distress.”
Vice President Joe Biden said on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday that there was “no apology” given for the two U.S. boats entering Iranian waters, and that Iran realized the sailors “were there in distress and said they would release them and released them like ordinary nations would do.”
“There’s nothing to apologize for,” Biden said. “When you have a problem with the boat you apologize the boat had a problem? No, and there was no looking for any apology. This was just standard nautical practice.”
President Obama has yet to comment publicly on the incident, and he did not mention it during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.