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Four more U.S. sailors disciplined in Iran boat seizure incident

August 9, 2016 (Photo Credit: MC1 Charles White/Navy)

More officers and enlisted have been disciplined for their conduct in the January Farsi Island debacle, which lead to the capture of 10 sailors and two riverine command boats by Iranian paramilitaries.

Four officers and two enlisted went to mast before Navy Expeditionary Combat Command head Rear Adm. Frank Morneau. Of the four officers, two were found guilty of disobeying a superior and dereliction of duty, according to an NECC statement and given punitive letters of reprimand — a potentially career-ending move. A third officer officer was found not guilty of dereliction of duty.

A fourth officer was taken to admiral's mast, but the service declined to provide the actions taken until that officer's window to appeal the NJP has expired, according to a defense official who asked for anonymity to discuss ongoing administrative actions.

 

Two enlisted were also given punitive letters of reprimand for dereliction of duty.

NECC declined to name any of the sailors involved, citing privacy concerns.

A Navy investigation completed in June and briefed to the media by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson concluded that shoddy navigation, maintenance shortfalls and a baffling lack of oversight created a maelstrom of errors that led to two U.S. Navy patrol boats being seized at gunpoint in Iranian territorial waters.

 

In July, the Navy punished two officers for dereliction of duty and disobeying orders and two enlisted for dereliction of duty. All four were issued letters of reprimand.

Both the commanding officer and executive officer of Coastal Riverine Squadron 3 at the time of the incident were relieved as a result of the investigation.

The investigation found that the riverines failed to properly plan for the mission and that some violated the code of conduct for prisoners of war by apologizing to their Iranian captors for the mix-up that led them into Iranian waters. 

 

Farsi Island is an Iranian-controlled island in the Persian Gulf.

Among the key findings of the investigation:

  • The sailors from Coastal Riverine Squadron 3 did not brief or even plan their route from Kuwait to Bahrain. While the original route would have avoided Iran’s territorial waters around Farsi Island, the crew immediately deviated from their original course to make up for a late start.
  • The crew did not report to their operational handlers on shore when they sighted land unexpectedly or report the mechanical failure.
  • Task Force 56, the riverine squadron’s immediate superior in 5th Fleet, tasked the sailors beyond their capabilities and limitations and fostered a “can do/will do” culture.
  • The tactical operations center charged with tracking the transit failed to do so and reacted poorly when things started going wrong.

The investigation faulted the boats' leadership — a junior officer and a senior enlisted crewmember — as well as the shore-side officer in charge in Kuwait.

 

 

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