Pentagon: 2 US Navy boats held by Iran but will be returned
WASHINGTON — Iran detained two small U.S. patrol vessels in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday after the boats apparently sailed within the territorial waters of Iran's Farsi Island, the Pentagon confirmed.
The two vessels, described as riverine boats, were carrying 10 U.S. personnel from Kuwait to Bahrain in the Persian Gulf when the Navy lost contact with them, said two defense officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The 10 sailors included nine men and one female, according to a statement release by FARS, the state-run news agency of Iran.
According to FARS, the ships were about two kilometers inside Iranian territorial waters.
A U.S. defense official who asked not to be identified said that its possible one of the vessels had mechanical difficulty which lead to the ships drifting into Iranian waters.
The FARS statement appeared to indicate that the sailors had been arrested and Iran had custody of the vessels, the guns onboard and the vessels' global positioning systems.
When the Navy realized it had lost contact with the two vessels, it conducted a wide-area search of the Persian Gulf, the officials said. They determined Iran had detained the ships, the officials said.
"We have subsequently been in contact with Iranian authorities who have informed us of the safety and well-being of our personnel. We have received assurances the sailors will promptly be allowed to continue their journey," the officials said, reading a prepared Pentagon statement.
The officials said it "appears" the vessels sailed within 12 miles of Farsi Island, which is considered Iranian territorial waters.
As of late Tuesday, neither the vessels nor the crew had been released.