Washington, DC - The Navy released the results of the investigation into the seizure of two riverine boats and the detention of 10 U.S. Navy personnel by Iranian forces today in a press conference at the Pentagon.
On January 12, 2016, two riverine boats left Kuwait for a 259 nautical mile transit to Bahrain. After deviating from their intended plan of movement, one of the riverine boats suffered an engine malfunction. Both riverine boats subsequently stopped to troubleshoot. After briefly attempting to communicate with Iranian forces patrol craft that intercepted them, the riverine boats and their crews were taken into Iranian custody. As a result of diplomatic negotiations, the riverine boats and their crews were released the following morning.
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy Vice Admiral John C. Aquilino spoke to members of the Pentagon press corps about the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident.
"The goal of this investigation was to conduct a thorough review of what U.S. Navy actions may have contributed to this incident," said Richardson. "We conduct these investigations to learn what we can in order to prevent similar events from occurring; and where necessary to hold our people accountable where they failed to follow procedures and meet expectations."
Additionally, Richardson noted that "the investigation concluded that Iran violated international law by impeding the boats' innocent passage transit and they violated our sovereign immunity by boarding, searching and seizing the boats and by photographing and video recording the crew."
Conclusions of the investigation centered on poor leadership and disregarded risk management and mission planning standards by those directly involved in planning the riverine boat missions.
The extensive report was subjected to comprehensive reviews before the public release in order to ensure that classified information, protected personally identifying information, and other non-releasable information remains protected. The names of the service members involved were redacted from the released materials to protect the privacy of the individuals and because some of them remain assigned to overseas, sensitive or routinely deployable units.
The report also noted that while the investigation did expose particular issues in relation to the training and day-to-day practices of a particular unit, it did not identify a significant problem in the overall Navy methodology and approach to training units and their leaders. Rather, the investigation highlights the importance of proper leadership and the adherence to sound naval doctrine.
Aquilino gave an overview of the event to include actions in theatre that lead to the eventual detainment and release of the RCB crews and what the Navy has done since the incident to mitigate similar occurrences.
"In order to maintain the bonds of trust and confidence amongst ourselves, and with the American people, we have an obligation to continuously examine our personal and professional conduct to ensure we always execute our mission and behave with integrity, accountability, initiative, and toughness," said Richardson.
The released investigation and associated reports have posted online at the Navy's Freedom of Information Act Reading Room.