10 U.S. sailors who were detained by Iran this week have been safely released. 9 men and 1 woman were held overnight on Farsi Island after having been taken into custody after their two small Navy vessels drifted into Iranian waters during a training session. The U.S. government has issued an official apology to Iran and clarified that our presence in their waters was accidental.
“The Americans have undertaken not to repeat such mistakes,” the statement read. “The captured marines were released in international waters under the supervision of the IRGC Navy.” Though many details about the incident remain unknown, Iran stated that a “broken navigation system” caused the boats to enter Iranian territory.
During an address on Wednesday morning, Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Iran for their cooperation in releasing the soldiers and for their quick action in doing so.
“All indications were that our sailors were tell taken care of,” he said. “I think we can all imagine how a similar situation might have played out three or four years ago, and in fact, [this] is a testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure, and strong,” he added.
The sailors were released from Farsi Island at 3:43 A.M., after which they were transferred ashore by a Navy aircraft. They continued on to Bahrain. There is no indication that any of the sailors were harmed, though they were given medical exams aboard the U.S.S. Anzio.
Initially, Ali Fadavi, Iran’s Navy chief general, accused the U.S. vessels of “unprofessional behavior,” but he later clarified the point in saying that a mechanical failure had led to their presence in illegal waters. “It was not for espionage or other harmful purposes,” he said, but he defended taking the American sailors into custody as a necessary measure, given the active presence of U.S. military forces in Iran.
The investigation is ongoing.