What was the US Navy vessel captured by the Iranians? What was its mission?

See subject. Most photos videos: http://blog.usni.org/2016/01/13/the-strategic-everyone

Iran kept the GPS; we must have tracking data, right? No matter what the captain (?) said under duress.

In addition to what kind of boat, is the related question: what mission?

It sounds unbelievable-a USN boat equipped with GPS drifts into Iranian waters-why didn’t a nearby ship go to their assistance? I would think that any such vessel operating so close to the territorial waters of Iran would be in constant contact with surface and air support. In any case, what were they doing there? And who will take the fall for this?

Since no one here is likely to actually know the answer to these questions (which were originally two separate OPs), let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

They were these types of boats (there were two) - guess we’ll have to take their word they were driving around an Iranian naval base on an island in the middle of the Persian Gulf for non-spying purposes and got lost…


They were two Riverine, either Command or Patrol, Boats. I’ve seen them described as both. Sweden designed them, FWIW.

They were transiting from Kuwait to Bahrain. Why, I dunno, and the links I’ve cited don’t really say. Ferry transit to another operating area is my guess. Depending on which port they were leaving and arriving at, it’s a haul of about 250 to 275 nautical miles. Which is a bit of a hike for those type of craft. And, while we’re not exactly talking about the Mouth of the Columbia River in a storm, the weather’s not supposed to be pleasant on the Gulf this time of year. I’ve read 5-6 foot seas with 15-25 knots of wind at the time of the seizure.

Further, it’s a route that should have taken them along the western side of the Persian Gulf, well away from Iranian territorial waters. The island they were taken to, Farsi Island, is roughly in the middle of the Persian Gulf, between the west and eastern shores. Nonetheless, even if you draw a 12 mile circle around Farsi, that still leaves a roughly 35 mile corridor of international water between the Kuwaiti, then Saudi, then Bahrainian shores. Since Farsi has a Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy base on it, and per rumors I’ve read from people who’ve served in the Gulf, the Iranians are supposed to be rather pissy about planes and ships getting near it, you’d think the planning for the transit would have emphasize staying away from that place. But who knows?

Playing around in Google Earth, it looks like the water is anywhere from 50 to 175 feet deep. You’d want someone like Princhester or Sniipe70E (?) to confirm, but I’d think you can still anchor in water that deep. IOW, even with one of the two boats suffering an engine failure, (never mind that both boats were videoed sailing away under their own power after the Iranians released them and their crews), you’d think they could have anchored, or called for assistance before blundering into Iranian waters. Especially as I’ve read the currents tend towards the south in that area, not easterly towards Iran or Farsi Island.

Add that the French Navy’s aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle was supposedly near by, along with its escorts, yet for some reason they weren’t able to lend assistance to the two boats, I don’t think we’re getting the whole story on what happened and I doubt we ever will. It’s strange.

Too many unexplained things…this leads me to suspect that they were on some kind of espionage mission. We’ll see.

Assuming it wasn’t a spy mission (probably not a safe assumption), they might not realize they had strayed into Iranian waters if their GPS units were improperly calibrated.

Surely there are better craft for that sort of thing.

[del]They were on a rescue mission but “accidentally” had their sand filters removed beforehand by an order from the Pentagon that there was no trace of afterward.[/del]
They were travelling close to Iranian waters the day of the SOTU, “suddenly” broke down due to mechanical failure, were in no real danger at all due to AMAZINGLY fast negotiating at the Pentagon, but provided rumors that were used to try to buzz-bomb the President.

I would not be surprised if someone in the Navy set these boats up to fail and get captured in order to stir up a shitstorm on the day of the State of the Union. Luckily Kerry was able to undo this in a hurry and we were left with the sad specter of GOP candidates stopping their circle jerk well short of orgasm.

I would think the military is above that sort of thing.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the boats had deliberately incurred on Iranian waters simply to see how and how fast the Iranians would respond. It is possible also that one of the boats had a mechanical breakdown that unexpectedly made a clean escape impossible.

Isn’t that basically what happened at Gulf of Tonkin?

These troops were not nearly discrete enough to be on a spy mission. Even if they were, every system and subsystem is at least duplicated just for this reason.

What was Kerry doing apologizing for the return of sailors that never should have been taken captive in the first place. My Navy buddies tell me there is there is protocol for this kind of thing and it does not involve boarding another countries ship without provocation. Just floating around in the water is not provocation. Can any other Navy guys verify this?

Phu Cat

Well , the naval equivalent of a second lieutenant with a map and compass,also comes to mind.


I have always believed that the guys thought they were under attack.

I thought one of the sailors apologized. One imagines that either he thought it was trivial, or he had guns pointed at his crewmates.

A bit Ironic, that these modern boats seemed similar to Swift Boats that Kerry Skippered. I’m not sure if these boats are used as gun boats or not.
Same type mission. Very fast, very maneuverable, can be hard to detect on covert missions.
Which raises the question. How did the Iranians find them so darn quick? That’s a very big body of water out there by that Island.

Um, radar? As far as I know, they aren’t designed for stealth.

It might have been the Lt of the boat that apologized. But Fox news had a clip of Kerry apologizing to the Iranians as well using almost the same exact wording. Pretty interesting, any other news agencies carry that?

Phu Cat