A Three Hour Tour
originally posted by: grey580
I'm starting to get the impression that the 2 boats where doing something stupid when they go caught.
Maybe they were water skiing and didn't notice where they were.
Water skiing would have been more productive than straying off course, inadvertently entering Iran's territorial waters and surrendering themselves
and their vessels to foreign control. The IRGC reported observing "unprofessional behavior" for about 40 minutes before responding and detaining the
boats and their crews. It would be most interesting to know what they meant by that.
Based on photographs and videos thoughtfully published by the government of Iran -- showing U.S. sailors on their knees, hands clasped behind their
heads, with the stars and stripes waving proudly behind them -- the detentions occurred during daylight hours on calm seas with partial cloud cover
and visibility extending to the horizon. That would seem to rule out high winds, rough seas or poor visibility as contributing factors.
In the age of GPS, we can also reasonably rule out compass, sextant, ring dial, hourglass, quadrant, cross staff, backstaff, chip log errors or
important features obscured by illustrations of dragons on their navigational charts. It is also unlikely (though theoretically possible) that the
navigation systems on both boats failed simultaneously, but the fact that the IRGC reported being able to determine the boats' navigational histories
by examining the onboard GPS units (presumably during their detailed searches, inspections and cataloging of the vessels' crews and contents) suggests
they were functional throughout the voyage.
The videotaped statements
made by the apparent officer in charge indicate
that a "misunderstanding" led to their entering Iranian territorial waters (and that they were sorry). It's not clear what the "engine issues" he
mentioned may have been, but the subsequent comments
credited to Defense Department officials and prompt return of both boats under their own power argue against a major engine failure.
To speculate (as we tend to do), it's possible that the "engine issues" could have involved something like a stuck throttle, or jet, or some other
malfunction that may have caused a loss of control of one of the boats which, in turn, led to unintentional entry. But even in that scenario, the
immediate action would have been to shut down the engines until control was restored, not allow a lengthy period of uncontrolled movement. Whatever
the issues, they were resolved by the time the vessels were returned the next day.
Perhaps IRGC mechanics repaired them as a courtesy to their guests.
To their credit, the sailors did not resist when confronted by the IRGC, which prevented gross negligence from escalating into assault and potentially
manslaughter or murder, which would have been acts that violate the laws of Iran (the jurisdiction where this occurred) and are prohibited by and
punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice regardless of local jurisdiction (10 USC 918-928, Articles 118, 119, 128).
Suggestions that U.S. vessels should have, without authorization, entered the waters of a sovereign nation and opened fire on its citizens are without
merit or support under military, federal or constitutional law. Thankfully, those involved were apparently aware of this.
It would be reassuring if more members of Congress, who are directly responsible for the creation and revision of U.S. law, were also aware of this,
or at least were to educate themselves more carefully about their responsibilities, act accordingly and refrain from making public comments that bring
discredit to the United States of America. In fact, it would be refreshing and welcome if more Americans in general were to do that.
I really don't like being an armchair quarterback about military operations, because in the real world bad things happen, even to the best of the
best, and I have utmost respect for anyone willing to take the oath, serve their nation and "walk the walk". It's also presumptuous to speak without
knowing all the details, and as we're painfully aware, they are rarely forthcoming in any case, let alone controversial military incidents
But absent something truly extraordinary that hasn't been reported (GPS spoofing? Geomagnetic anomalies? Alien abductions? Mind control rays?
Something more mundane but plausible?), it all comes back to there being no credible excuse for U.S. sailors entering a dangerous and restricted area
without authorization and being captured by unfriendly forces.*
not supposed to happen, whether in peacetime, wartime or anything in between, and unless the Navy finds out exactly what
happen and takes steps to prevent recurrences, it could happen again, and with a much less fortunate outcome.
Thus we can expect the Navy is scrupulously investigating this matter with utmost diligence, and though we may never know all the details, we can rest
assured the lessons learned will be shared by all concerned.
I imagine the debriefing interviews for the boat captains and crews were... fruitful.
* To be fair, it does appear the IRGC was admirably hospitable in its treatment of its unexpected visitors, so maybe not so unfriendly, but
nonetheless, relying upon that hospitality is not the vocation of the United States Navy.